No. 1 DE in the state and 4-star Ryan Johnson meets, works out with Karl Dunbar at Alabama

Ryan Johnson has talked about expanding his game and he was able to take a step in that direction while at Alabama Sunday, working with new assistant Karl Dunbar in the process.

Ryan Johnson is very familiar with in-state powers Auburn and Alabama but it isn’t slowing the frequency of visiting each campus as his recruitment continues.

The four-star Mobile (Ala.) St. Paul’s standout defensive lineman has already been back to each this month, taking in Big Cat Weekend at AU and returning to Tuscaloosa Sunday with some teammates for intimate time with Crimson Tide coaches.

Johnson, who is projected as a defensive end by Scout, has long talked about potentially playing the JACK linebacker position some should he end up with the defending national champions, and he was able to take another step towards that with linebacker’s coach Tosh Lupoi during a brief workout.

“It went well,” he said. “It wasn’t too bad.”

But before that, he worked where he is most familiar and was able to spend considerable time with Nick Saban’s new defensive line coach Karl Dunbar in the process.

“It was my first time meeting him in person but he’s a cool guy and a great coach,” Johnson said. “He’s laid back but teaches when need be. I’m sure he gets his players though when they mess up.

“Coach Dunlap was running the D-line stuff then coach Lupoi for the linebacker drills.”

The top-six prospect in the Yellowhammer State has often talked about rounding out his game with a stand-up element and Sunday he was able to get individual work at the position.

“I’m trying,” he said of the increased workload. “They had me dropping into coverage some and that was new.”

Johnson has long been a priority for the coaching staff in the class of 2017 and one of its top targets has been honest about UA pushing for his verbal commitment during each of his previous two visits. Sunday was more of the same as position need and potential for early playing time remain some of the most consistent pitches communicated his way.

“They are still trying to get me and join the class,” he said. “They are definitely stressing the issue of the loss of D-linemen.”

Admitting he likes Alabama’s aggressive approach in recruiting him, Johnson will likely be back in Tuscaloosa in the coming weeks before the Saints set out to defend yet another state championship. The Crimson Tide’s Iron Bowl rival, which has also prioritized him along with many other programs coast to coast, will also likely get him in town again in that time frame.

“I’ll probably go visit ‘Bama and Auburn again this summer but I don’t know about anywhere else yet,” he said of his plans.

A list of top schools may be released by Johnson sometime this summer.

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