Justin Johnson of Central High School in Tuscaloosa will join the Tide squad as a walk-on this fall. ">
Justin Johnson of Central High School in Tuscaloosa will join the Tide squad as a walk-on this fall. ">

Legitimate D-End prospect will walk on

Despite starting at offensive tackle for most of his high school career, defensive end is the likely college destination of Bama's latest "commitment." <br><br>Justin Johnson of Central High School in Tuscaloosa will join the Tide squad as a walk-on this fall.

Described by Chuck Friend, his high school coach, as a "very coachable" athlete who runs extremely well, Johnson's aggressive nature helped him gain recognition as a pass-rushing machine on defense.

Johnson (6-3, 245, 4.70) finished his senior year with 88 tackles and 19 quarterback sacks. He also played offensive tackle his junior and senior years where the bulk of the Central rushing attack ran straight up his back. Johnson played exclusive on offense as a junior.

Friend and the Tide coaches believe Johnson's collegiate future lies at defensive end where he has shown outstanding outside containment. He allowed just one touchdown his entire senior season on his side of the field. According to Coach Friend, Johnson's quickness to the football was the main reason he was so successful.

Johnson is relatively young (he won't turn 18 until this September), and doctors say that his growth plates indicate he should mature to at least 6-4, 265 plus pounds.

Justin Johnson has been a regular visitor to Alabama practices this spring.

Tide coaches have confided to Coach Friend that in terms of size and athleticism, Johnson reminds them of Keith Saunders, Bama's last signee and also a defensive end prospect.

Coach Friend reports that Johnson has enormous strength, which allows him to fight off would-be blockers. Plus his offensive line experience lets him stay one step ahead mentally.

This past season Johnson was chosen his team's, Defensive MVP. He also garnered All West Alabama honors.

Johnson bench presses 385 pounds, power cleans 300 and squats 600. (A 500-pound squat is considered good for a college athlete). He carries a 3.0 GPA in the classroom and scored 17 on the ACT.

Coach Friend relates that Johnson enjoys great family support and is a "class act" on and off the field.

Athletically, Johnson inherited great bloodlines from his father's side. Garfield Johnson played football for four years at Yankton College in Yankton, South Dakota (the alma mater of former NFL great, Lyle Alzado of the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders). Johnson is also related to former Tennessee running back, Kelsey Finch.

Morehouse College, Stillman College and Alabama State all recruited Johnson, but he prefers to walk on and be a part of the Crimson Tide program.

He plans to enroll at The University for the summer semester to get a jump start on off-season workouts and college courses.

NOTE: Alabama is in the process of cutting down the size of its full squad, which means there will be significantly fewer available spots for incoming walk-ons. Johnson joins a select few athletes approved as walk-ons for the fall.

Athletes previously reported by BamaMag.com as approved to walk on next fall are wide receiver Andrew Bone, punter Patrick Eades, linebacker/defensive end Matt Collins, defensive end Will Denniston and tight end Barrett Earnest.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Normally this would be a subscription story, available only to Crimson Ticket holders. But we frankly wanted to make it available to everyone, so that Johnson could share it with his friends.

Obviously we'd hope that readers will be prompted to try a trial subscription to BamaMag.com. Just $7.95 will purchase a month's worth of Alabama sports. We feel confident that fans will find the content more than worth the price.


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