Johnson commits to Arkansas

On a day when former Texas High standout Ryan Mallett officially transferred from Michigan to Arkansas, Arkansas High tailback Dennis Johnson pledged to sign with the Razorbacks - a move that left San Antonio's Devin Thomas no longer headed to Fayetteville.

Even before new University of Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino and assistant Bobby Allen arrived in Texarkana Monday morning, Dennis Johnson had decided he wanted to be a Razorback.

It seems that fellow future Razorback tailback De'Anthony Curtis (5-11, 211, 4.41) of Camden Fairview had a big hand in that and it made him the second Texarkana resident - along with transferring quarterback Ryan Mallett – to call himself a Razorback on Monday.

"De'Anthony Curtis called me and said that we could be the next Darren McFadden and Felix Jones up there starting next year," Johnson said Monday afternoon just a few hours after McFadden and Jones officially announced they were headed to the NFL. "That sounds really good to me."

It, however, did not sound good to San Antonio running back Devin Thomas, who basically was told that Johnson was getting the scholarship because he was ready to commit and Thomas had visited Ole Miss and was still planning to visit TCU and Arizona State.

"They told me they had a kid in-state who was ready to commit right away and because I was still going to take visits that he would be getting that scholarship," Thomas said. "I don't think that is right. There were other guys still taking visits."

Johnson, who had over 2,000 all-purpose yards and 26 touchdowns while leading the Razorbacks to a second straight Class 6A state title, became UA commitment number 18 on Monday morning soon after Petrino and Allen arrived.

"I really liked what Coach Petrino and Coach Allen had to say," Johnson said. "I think Coach Petrino is going to be a great coach for Arkansas and I really liked his game plan of running it and throwing it evenly. He officially offered me a scholarship and I committed right then."

Johnson will take his official visit to Fayetteville on Jan. 25-27.

"I also didn't want to go too far away from home and I am excited about playing in Fayetteville and being a Razorback," Johnson said. "It feels really good."

Johnson will join former Texarkana star Brandon Barnett as Razorbacks. Barnett will be a junior tailback next season.

"Dennis had a great speed and power and is probably the fastest kid in the state playing football besides our Fred Rose, that Arkansas is recruiting in track," Texarkana head coach and former UA assistant Bill Keopple said. "He is going to be a big asset because not only does he run the ball so well, but he also catches the ball out of the backfield really well. He is probably more of a physical runner than Brandon."

Johnson had 209 carries for 1,529 yards and 20 touchdowns this season, had 6 catches for 138 yards and 2 TDs and also had 9 punt returns for 361 yards and 4 more scores.

"I think I am going to fit really well in Coach Petrino's offense," Johnson said. "It's going to be a good thing to keep being a Razorback."

There were many who thought that Johnson might not be academically eligible to play next season, but he has put himself in position to get it done.

"All I need now is to go from a 16 to an 18 on my ACT," Johnson said. "I am getting tutored for it for the first time and I feel really good that I am going to get the score I need and be up there playing next season."

Keopple said that with the NCAA moving core classes needed from 14 to 16 for incoming recruits, he got Johnson in six of them this year.

"He had a great semester in the classroom with five As and one C is on course to have no core problems at all," Keopple said. "There are also a couple of teachers who are helping him prepare to take his next ACT and a lady here around town who does that as well."

Thomas had 4,734 yards rushing and 66 touchdowns in his high school career.

"I am really looking forward to continuing to be a Razorback," Johnson said. "Everything really worked out in the end for me."

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