Chad Simmons

Johnston Raves About Razorbacks

Arkansas impressed Alabama prep linebacker Thomas Johnston (6-2, 215) on his unofficial visit this weekend and he has plans to be back sooner than later.

Arkansas has made it very clear to Spanish Fort, Ala., prep linebacker Thomas Johnston that he is a guy it really covets.

Johnston (6-2, 215) heard that again this weekend as he took an unofficial visit to Fayetteville to check out the Razorbacks.

“They tell me I am their guy at linebacker and they want me to come in and compete for a job,” Johnston said. “It was unbelievable. I enjoyed the whole weekend and everything sound great.”

Johnston, who has some 20 offers from Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Mississippi State, Clemson, Oregon, UAB and others, admits Arkansas exceeded his expectations.

“It wasn’t what I expected it was a whole lot better The way I thought of Arkansas I thought it would be in a field in the country When I stepped on campus I realized it was something special.

“…The facilities are unreal. The new football facility is probably the top one in the country. Up there with Bama. I didn’t expect anything like that. I was like wow.

“I just liked how everything was so nice and new. t seems like they take care of their stuff and they just have a lot of great stuff in there.”

The visit definitely elevated the Razorbacks in Johnston’s pecking order.

“They are definitely at the top,” Johnston said. “I am going to take my official (to Arkansas) for the Ole Miss game. That’s the next trip although I might ride up with a couple of buddies earlier. I am trying to bring some Bama boys to show what it is like over here. I love it here.”

Johnston made the trip with his dad Tyler and a family friend in former Arkansas player and coach Dean Peavey.

Peavey is high on Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema. 

 “I tell you what sets us apart, too, is Coach Bielema you can talk to him for five minutes and can tell you would want you son to go play for him and you would want to play for him,” Peavey said. “He is a straight shooter, no nonsense, just a real guy.

“A lot of these guys give speeches with canned answers and the prototype of what everybody wants to hear. He just tells it like it is. He says what he feels and I appreciate that. It’s almost a little bit like what (former Florida and South Carolina coach Steve) Spurrier does. He just speaks from his heart. I think kids appreciate that.”

Peavey had not been back to Fayetteville in seven years.

 “It was good to get up there,” Peavey said. “It was good to see (tight ends) Coach (Barry)Lunney…getting back and seeing Clarinda Carr, Coach B’s secretary. It was unreal. The facilities have changed a lot.

“I had not been back since ’09, the spring of ’09. It’s just been a world of difference since then. The coaches offices, the weight room and everything, just tons of difference since we were there in terms of facilities.”

Johnston got to visit the Jones Academic Center.

“The people that are in there with the football team are very good,” Johnston said. “You are going to have to not try. Coach B and his group are big on taking care of grades. His big priority is the gpa and then winning games.”

He is also high on Arkansas strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert.

“The athletic trainer and the strength coach and how he develops players in unreal,” Johnston said. “It is proven that he is one of the top guys in the country. 

“Coach Herb, we went and sit in his office and saw pictures of before and after of the players. The way he develops them in just like a summer is crazy. He gets everybody ready to compete in the SEC.”

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