Junior college defensive tackle Toby Johnson (Hutchinson, Kan./Hutchinson CC) had no intentions of verbally committing to Oklahoma on Wednesday during his unofficial visit. But the Sooners gave him something to think about.
“Oh, they just made it even more interesting,” Johnson said. “They were already in the race, but now they’re really in there. I had a great time.”
At this point, there is no way of knowing who exactly is joining OU in the race. Johnson said he doesn’t have a list of favorites. He did, however, have a good visit to Nebraska last weekend and has also seen Arkansas and Tennessee this summer.
Johnson, who is 6-foot-4 and 290 pounds, has more than 25 offers at this point and is taking a break from the recruiting game. He said the OU visit is his last unofficial visit, and he will focus on the season.
With the Sooners being his last visit, OU did everything it could to leave a lasting impression on a prospect at a position that is OU’s biggest need in the 2013 class.
“For me, I just wanted to see everything,” Johnson said. “I thought everything went well. I was able to sit down and talk with the coaches.”
The relationship formed with OU defensive tackles coach Jackie Shipp gave Johnson a little less to worry about going into the visit.
Because of all the position coaches Johnson is talking with, he said he has the best relationship with Shipp.
“We’ve had that connection since day one,” Johnson said. “I love Coach Shipp. We talk about a lot more than football. He’s a big family guy.
“Even if I don’t go to OU, I know I would still have that relationship with Coach Shipp. You can’t say that about everybody.”
It wasn’t just Shipp that Johnson made a connection with. He said he spent about half of the visit talking with Bob Stoops. His impression? Not at all what he thought Stoops would be.
“He was a lot cooler than I thought, and I enjoyed talking with him and seeing his vision of where I fit into the defense.”
As great as his relationship is with OU’s coaches, it is all about fitting into the defense for Johnson, who will have three years of eligibility to play two seasons following the 2012 season.
Johnson said what he likes the most about OU is how the coaching staff would expect him to come in and make an immediate impact.
“They were talking about putting me in good position to make plays. I liked that,” Johnson said. “I want to fit in wherever I go. I would fit in at Oklahoma.”
Johnson said he hopes he is not done making visits. A couple of schools he still wants to see are Ole Miss and Mississippi State.