Toby Johnson talks NU visit, Vols interest

Junior college defensive tackle Toby Johnson (Hutchinson, Kan./Hutchinson Community College) recently tore the ACL and PCL in his right knee, but the injury hasn’t stopped him from making the necessary road trips to pick a college. The injury also hasn’t scared away recruiters.

Johnson was one of the visitors in Lincoln, Neb., taking in the Cornhuskers’ win against Minnesota. On an unofficial visit, he and Hutch teammate Ben Bradley, a defensive tackle and Tennessee commit, enjoyed the trip and left Lincoln with a positive perspective.

“At first, I thought we weren’t going down there,” Johnson said. “I didn’t find out until [Saturday morning] that we were still going. It was real good. The game atmosphere was crazy. Walking out the tunnel and greeting fans what something I really liked.”

Defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski and defensive coordinator John Papuchis are recruiting Johnson, who has offers from Nebraska, Florida, Oklahoma, Kansas State and a host of other programs. Johnson’s front-runners, however, are Georgia and Tennessee.

With news breaking Sunday about the firing of Tennessee coach Derek Dooley, the big question for Johnson now involves how much of a factor the Volunteers will be in his process for the immediate future. Dooley was let go after a 4-7 season and going winless in SEC play.

Two Hutch players, Bradley and outside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell, have committed to Tennessee. Johnson said Dooley’s firing doesn’t automatically eliminate the Volunteers from the picture.

“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.”