Alabama native and junior college standout linebacker Gary Johnson commits to the Crimson Tide

Gary Johnson admits he didn't think he'd be able to play at a program like Alabama but after recently earning the offer, he pulled the trigger with a commitment on Sunday.

In the class of 2015 cycle, Douglas (Ala.) High School linebacker Gary Johnson wasn't picked up by a major program. His academics weren't in order and he opted for a fresh start at Dodge City Community College. 

Just over one year later, he has reemerged on the recruiting spectrum in a big way. 

Johnson is now an Alabama Crimson Tide commitment in the class of 2017 with three years to play two at the next level.

"Everyone knows Alabama puts linebackers into the NFL and the program has always been championship caliber," he said. "The defense is just incredible and I feel I can play a role in it with my speed and athleticism. 

"Growing up, I watched Alabama a lot. Now, having the opportunity to play for them, it's pretty exciting."

As a freshman last season, Johnson led the Conquistadors with 133 tackles while finishing second in sacks (8) and third in tackles-for-loss (13.5). But he admits it wasn't easy relaying his decision to Nick Saban Sunday.

"I was nervous but it was something I wanted to do," he said. "I wanted to let him know I was going to play for his program and that I was all for Alabama. I told him, 'well coach I talked to my family and they're behind me 100 percent and I want to be a part of the Crimson Tide.'

"It got me pretty excited that he wants me to come in. He compares me to C.J. Mosley Jr."

Johnson, who had additional offers from Ole Miss, Baylor, Iowa State and others, had UA atop his list of late and felt the timing was right to end the process. He isn't ruling out other programs altogether, though. He says the status of his recruitment won't affect his play or work ethic before he begins his career at the next level.

"I had it in my mind that I wanted to prove myself and prove to everybody else that I'm a Division I guy who can play at an SEC school or Big Ten school," he said. "I had no doubt in my mind I was going to come to Dodge, get a starting spot, give it my all and do what I have to do to get teams' attention. I still feel like it's more for me to prove."

Learning plenty from his setbacks, Johnson feels he fits the Alabama mold quite well.

"They're getting a really athletic, fast linebacker, who can come in and make plays," he said. "I left the offensive side of the ball to come to the defensive side because I wanted to bring the hit than taking the hit. Playing in front of Alabama, in front of all those fans, they're getting a pretty good guy that's going to come down hill and make a lot of plays. 

"All else I can say is Roll Tide!"

Graduating from Dodge in December, Johnson has two years of eligibility remaining following the 2016 season.

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