While most people will spend December wondering what they will give or receive in terms of Christmas presents, Arkansas fullback commit Hayden Johnson will be making a bigger decision.
Johnson (6-4, 255) will take December to decide whether he wants to become a mid-term graduate and enroll at Arkansas in January or stay in high school for the spring.
Arkansas went through the process for Johnson during his official visit to the campus on Nov. 20-22, one of his many trips to Fayetteville this season.
“The Arkansas staff did a great job of going over how everything would work if I did decide to go ahead and be an early graduate,” Johnson said. “It is something that I am really thinking about, but just want to be sure.
“I know that I would really have a chance to come in start or get a lot of playing time next season if I come in early and go through spring practice so it really makes me think it might bed the best idea.
“But I want to think about it for a while longer and just let it be the right decision.”
Johnson, who will host Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema and offensive coordinator Dan Enos on Thursday for a home visit, was back for his fourth game this season last Friday as Arkansas whipped Missouri 28-3 in the rain.
It was a strange situation for the young man who grew up in the shadow of the University of Missouri and had 12 members of his family on hand for the game.
“Yes, that was something,” Johnson said. “My family are all Missouri graduates and that was definitely a different thing for us all to be wearing Razorback stuff and watching Missouri.
“But my family are all in and I know that I am going to the right program now, one that has a great future that I am going to be a part of and that’s something that I am really excited about.”
Johnson committed to Arkansas back in June and stayed with the Razorbacks after Florida State and Nebraska joined the mix of some 20 offers.
“I knew at the time I was making the right decision because of the coaches and how I believed in them,” Johnson said. “I am even more sure about it now after getting a chance to see how the program is both on and off the field.”
That included getting to see the Jerry and Gene Jones Family Student Center, something big for Johnson, who plans to study pre-meda
“It is amazing and I know is going to be big for me as a student,” Johnson said. “Arkansas just has the total all-around program for me.”
Johnson had 79 tackles, 11 sacks, 9 other tackles for lost yardage and seven quarterback hurries while playing mostly defense his senior season.
That was after a junior season where he had 67 tackles, but also rushed for 280 yards and nine touchdowns as a Wildcat quarterback.
“Arkansas coaches talked to me about how they were going to use me as a fullback and I am really excited about the chance to be such a big part of the offense,” Johnson said.
Johnson, whose official hosts were redshirting freshmen Austin Cantrell and Ricky Town, visited the same weekend as Beaumont, Texas, Central tailback Devwah Whaley.
Whaley named Arkansas as his leader after the visit, but then committed to Georgia just a few days later.
With Georgia’s recent firing of head coach Marc Richt, Whale’s situation is back up in the air.
“We are likely going to lose a couple of running backs this season and so it would be great to get a prospect like him,” Johnson said. “I liked getting to meet him and I think we could be a great combination. I’d love to block for him.”