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February 21, 2011

Playmaker headed to Austin

The Texas Longhorns are looking to bring in some elite skill position talent in the 2012 recruiting class, guys that could potentially step in and make early contributions once they eventually hit the UT campus.

On Monday night, the Horns took a big step towards accomplishing their goal when Dallas Skyline receiver Thomas Johnson called the Texas coaches and become UT's seventh commitment of the 2012 recruiting class.

"It just felt right for me. Overall, it's a great school," Johnson said. "It's the school I wanted to go to. If you know where you want to go, why not go ahead and do it now?"

Johnson put in a few different calls on Monday night to make the commitment official. He first called wide receivers coach Darrell Wyatt, who asked him to call recruiting coordinator and Dallas-area recruiter Bruce Chambers. When he got Chambers on the line, Chambers sent the call up the chain of command and had Johnson call head coach Mack Brown.

"I called all of them," Johnson said. "I talked to everybody. They all were excited."

One of the state's top offensive playmakers, Johnson visited Texas for a junior day on February 13 with his mother and picked up a scholarship offer on that trip. He's holding more than 20 offers, and he said Texas just felt right after spending some time on campus and interacting with the new coaches.

"I kind of wanted to stay close to home to a certain degree. All in all, I felt that of the schools I've seen, it was the best fit for me," Johnson said. "They're doing a lot of new stuff with their offense. They have a new wide receivers coach, coach Wyatt, and he's a great coach. They have a great offensive coordinator in coach (Bryan) Harsin.

"It's a big monkey off my back. I'm just glad to be committed to a place I really want to go to. Now I don't really have to worry about having to do anything with any other colleges. I'm just relieved and excited."

The 5-11, 180-pound Johnson battled injuries as a junior but still hauled in 20 receptions for 360 yards and 2 scores despite being limited through most of the season. As a sophomore, he did most of his damage on the ground, running for 1626 yards (13 ypc) and 25 scores at The Oakridge School. Now fully healthy, Johnson plans to put in a lot of work this spring and summer to continue to elevate his game.

"I'm just focusing on spring workouts, continue to do what I've been doing. I'll work hard on the field and in the classroom, just doing everything, trying to work towards greatness," Johnson said. "I'm going to be working on my strength, my speed, my technique, hands, all of it. I want to get to know the offense better than last year, be more savvy, all of those things. Try to be more electrifying. There is always room for improvement in all areas."

Johnson becomes the Longhorns second wide receiver commitment from Skyline in the last two years. In 2010, Texas signed Mike Davis, who came in last year and set the UT freshman single-season receptions record despite battling injuries of his own.

"I plan on breaking that (record)," Johnson said. "He told me about his time there. He said they had a rough road with the losses, but it's still a great school. They'll bounce back this year, I'm sure of that."

Ranked No. 11 on the Lone Star Recruiting Top 100, Johnson said the decision has been on his mind since visiting Texas a little more than a week ago, and he and his mother have discussed the possibility of an early commitment often.

"Really, since we got back from Austin that night, we've talked about Texas every single night," Johnson said. "We talk about different colleges, why we like those colleges. But she likes Texas. When we were down on our junior day, told me she was very impressed with what she saw."

TCU and Oklahoma rounded out Johnson's top three before his Monday decision.


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