Toby Johnson is one of the top defensive JUCO prospects in the country, and even though the highly-sought after defensive tackle had his season shortened by a torn ACL, he continues to be coveted by more than a few Division I programs—one of which is the University of Georgia.
While the Bulldogs have made it known to Johnson that their interest in him is high—injury or no injury—Johnson has enough suitors that he hasn’t been in any hurry to make a final decision. That said, with the JUCO signing deadline fast-approaching, you’d guess that Johnson is just about ready to proclaim his final choice, and with Derek Dooley out at Tennessee, many figure Georgia to be in the drivers seat for Johnson’s signature.
To that assumption, Johnson had this to say:
“I’ve always liked Tennessee. They were one of the first schools to offer me,” Johnson said. “I just really feel comfortable there. There are people up there I already know, and one of my best friends is up there. Plus, Ben’s committed there. I feel like it can be a good spot.”
Johnson was considering taking a visit to Tennessee this weekend for the home game against Kentucky, but because of the firing, he said he may put visiting plans on hold. If he chooses not to visit Tennessee, Johnson said he will look at visits to Georgia and Auburn. Michigan State and Florida are possibilities, as well.
“I’m not sure where I’ll be, but I know that Tennessee isn’t knocked out the picture,” Johnson said. “I know I’m not trying to make a quick decision anytime soon. I’d like to, but I know I need to take my time with this one.” (Damon Sayles, “Toby Johnson talks NU visit, Vols interest”, ESPN.com, 11/18/12)
For those reading the above excerpt with more than a surface-level eye, the part that most sticks out is likely this one: “…Johnson was considering taking a visit to Tennessee this weekend for the home game against Kentucky, but because of the firing, he said he may put visiting plans on hold.”
If Johnson weren’t reconsidering the Vols, why bother going elsewhere? After all, Dooley was the only guy fired, his staff currently remains in place until a coaching search can take place after the season. Even more, with all of the other connections Johnson speaks of having in Knoxville, it hardly seems that Dooley’s exit would play much of a role at all. So, why again would he reconsider if he isn’t having second thoughts?
This is all speculation, but it seems fairly safe to say that if Johnson decides to attend the Georgia-Georgia Tech game this weekend, the Bulldogs must be in better than average shape to land him.
Clearly, Johnson’s thought process regarding the Volunteers has taken on something of a different course, whether he’ll actually admit as much, and that course would certainly end up working to the benefit of the Bulldogs in the end.