There are many talented prospects in Arkansas in the 2015 class, but not a ton of them looked upon as defensive prospects.
One of those is Highland junior standout Avery Johnson (6-2, 210, 4.6), who plays all over the field for the Rebels, but is being targeted as a safety by the Razorback coaching staff.
"Every time I see (Arkansas assistant) Coach Barry Lunney, he tells me that I look like a safety to him and someone that could help them out on the defensive side," Johnson said. "But he also talks about me as a possible tight end or H-back and maybe even a linebacker depending on how much bigger I get."
Johnson is one of two Division I prospects at Highland along with junior wide receiver Deon Stewart (6-1, 165) and that's why both Lunney and Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema have been to see them recently.
Both will be visiting Arkansas on March 1 for one of the Razorbacks' Junior Day.
"We're both excited to get up there and spend the day and get to know the coaches more and just check everything out," Johnson said.
Johnson missed one game because of a concussion last season, but certainly showed off his versatility.
He rushed 62 times for 662 yards with 10 touchdowns, had 32 catches for 449 yards and six more scores and also had 35 tackles, six interceptions and one fumble recovery.
"I lined up as a running back, at tight end, as a wide receiver, as a linebacker and in the secondary," Johnson said. "I also played quarterback in the wildcat some."
Johnson – who has a 42.5 inch vertical jump - has an offer from Arkansas State already and has been told that one from Southern Miss is forthcoming soon.
"My coach said that the Southern Miss assistant that came to see us said that he wanted to go back and talk it over with the head coach, but that he thought I would be getting an offer from them soon."
He is also getting interest from Arkansas and letters from Auburn, Alabama, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Yale.
Johnson – whose school is located in Hardy - would love to have an Arkansas offer in the near future.
"It has always been a dream of mine to play for the Razorbacks so I really hope that I get the opportunity," Johnson said. "It really would be a dream come true."
But that doesn't necessarily mean that he would immediately commit.
"I talked it over with my family and we are not sure that would be the best thing right away," Johnson said. "But then again, I probably would because I really believe Coach Bielema has it headed back the right way."
Johnson has taken in a couple of Razorback games the past two seasons – seeing the Razorbacks' loss to Louisiana-Monroe in Little Rock in 2012 and the loss to Texas A&M in Fayetteville in 2013.
"I really feel like the new coaches have added in some really good players the past two recruiting classes and I would like to be a part of the next one," Johnson said. "Like I said earlier, the future is going to be really good up there."
Johnson was on the basketball court Monday night as host Highland downed Cave City 40-37 in the opening round of the 3-4A District Tournament.
The seventh-seeded Rebels will face third-seeded Pocahontas on Tuesday night with the berth in the regional tournament on the line.
"We have to win one more win in the district and then one in the regional to make it to the state tournament," Johnson said.
Johnson participates in sports the year round with football, basketball and then on to track and field.
"I've never really have an off-season because I just go from one sport to another," Johnson said. "It's kind of exciting to think how much stronger and better I can get when I just start concentrating on football."
Avery Johnson shows off his hops in a recent basketball game.
Johnson's A Rebel With A Cause
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