April 1, 2012

Vols lead for Johnson

Instead of going to the beach or staying at home for a full week, Hutchinson Community College defensive lineman Toby Johnson decided to take a visit to Tennessee for three days during his spring break.

The visit turned out to be extremely fruitful for both the Vols and Johnson as the 6-foot-4, 290-pound defensive tackle left Knoxville calling the Vols his leader.

"I loved Tennessee. Right now they're my leader. I love the coaches. The players seem cool and I like what they're trying to do down there," Johnson said.

Johnson raved about his time with Tennessee defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri and how the first-year coach showed him how he'd be utilized in Sunseri's new defense.

"Just the defensive coordinator, coach Sal, what he's trying to do. He's trying to get me in a great position and he's building the defense around something I want to do," said Johnson on why the Vols are on top. "I want to play the five-technique. I want to be able to play anything on the defensive line and that's what they're offering me right now."

Sunseri's willingness to spend time with Johnson and break down how he'd fit in his defense meant a lot to Johnson, a College Park, Ga., native.

"That was real big. He even sat down and showed me the defense and where I'd be and I would be good at playing it because of my size, speed and quickness," he said.

Johnson's time with the coaching staff enabled him to continue to build a strong relationship with Tennessee's coaches, including head coach Derek Dooley.

"I love their whole coaching staff. The whole coaching staff spent a lot of time with me while I was down there. Coach Dooley's laid back," he said. "I just want to play for a coach like that. I want to play for a coach that demands respect but is a player's coach off the field."

There's already a timetable in Johnson's mind and he wants to have recruiting wrapped up before the start of his football season. He added it would take a lot for someone to overcome Tennessee's lead between now and likely late in the summer.

"I plan on committing before the season started," Johnson said. "I'd have to see a whole lot. Tennessee really put it out there and were straightforward and let me know if I were there I'd be starting."

While Tennessee is the early leader for Johnson, he laid out criteria that he'd have to see from any school that wanted to sign him.

"When it comes to a school I want somewhere that's going to feel like family, somewhere where I can play right away, somewhere where I fit in good in their defense and one that is going to help me get to the next level," said Johnson.

Johnson plans on graduating from Hutchinson in December and enrolling at the school of his choice in January.

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