Columbia (Mo.) Rock Bridge three-star fullback Hayden Johnson committed to play for the Razorbacks just five days after coming to a camp in Fayetteville.
“When I went down there with my family, they ended up offering,” Johnson said. “The hospitality of the coaches, even though they had just offered me, was great. It felt like family.”
He chose Arkansas over 22 other offers, including Air Force, Army, Louisiana Tech, Navy, Ohio, Purdue, Toledo and Tulsa.
Despite waiting until the end of the week, Johnson said he had a pretty good idea that day that he would eventually commit to Arkansas.
“I made my absolute final decision (Friday),” Johnson said. “I wanted to let it sit for a couple of days and think about it. Finally I said, ‘Why wait?’ So I went ahead and did it.”
When the Arkansas coaches made the offer, they sat down and went over Johnson’s goals, which includes playing in the NFL and going to medical school after his playing days.
Johnson said that the university had the academics he was looking for and that they fit him well.
While he plays many positions at Rock Bridge – including defensive end, defensive tackle, running back, tight end and quarterback in the team’s wildcat package – the Razorbacks want him to play fullback.
“They told me I’d play a lot of fullback, with blocking (responsibilities),” Johnson said. “They also said I could catch some passes and take some handoffs, so kind of a flex position.”
He is the first Arkansas commit from the Razorbacks’ northern neighbor since the Razorbacks signed three from Missouri in 2014 (Brian Wallace, Rafe Peavey and Armon Watts).
However, unlike those three guys, Johnson has grown up in the backyard of one of the Razorbacks’ SEC rivals: Missouri.
Johnson said his house is about 10 minutes from the Tigers’ campus.
“I grew up in Mizzou territory,” Johnson said. “My whole family is a fan of them. We’ve had season tickets and I remember going to games. My brother even goes there.
“It’ll be fun going back and playing in my hometown.”
With two and a half months remaining until his final season of high school football, Johnson is glad to have his commitment behind him.
“I wanted to make my decision early and focus on developing,” Johnson said. “I wanted to really focus in on the game and bettering myself as a player and as a person.”