Joe Surratt of Pace High School is well aware of that fact and it is a major reason he is seriously interested in the possibility of signing a scholarship to play for the Tigers. The 6-1, 260-pounder already knows that Jake Slaughter, Johnson's backup in 2003, is the only returning fullback on the 2004 Auburn football roster.
Surratt took an official visit to Florida State this past weekend and rates the Seminoles and Auburn at the top of his current list of five finalists.
"Right now I am kind of looking at Auburn and Florida State," he says. "They are both great schools and they run out of the ‘I' a lot. Florida State is a dominant team in the ACC with Auburn being a dominant team in the SEC. They really didn't show it this year, but I think they are going to be real good next year and they are going to need another fullback."
Although he likes the Tigers and Seminoles, Surratt says that he also sees positives about the other colleges he is considering.
"I have already taken two of my official visits--one to Southern Miss and one to Florida State," he says. "I enjoyed them both. They both had their differences between a real big college and a smaller college, but both are big schools in their conferences.
"I am also taking a trip down to South Florida (this week) to check them out. They are going to be in the Big East next year. I am going to Clemson for a trip on the 23rd and that should be interesting. They are starting to run a little bit more of an I-package and they are a dominant team in the ACC. And my last one is Auburn on the 30th. I'll be going up there. Really, every school that I have on my list I'm liable to go to any one of them--not necessarily just a big school."
Surratt is in good shape academically with both his grades and his ACT score so qualifying won't be an issue. He says he runs a 4.8 40 and he likes contact.
"I feel like I have got a lot to bring to the table with my blocking," he says. "I'm alright in running. I had 1,000 yards or so this past year and I think that I have exceptional hands."
Comparing his current leaders, Auburn and FSU, he says, "I don't know, but I feel like at both schools I can bring something to the table. Maybe at Auburn, I might have have a chance to play earlier and get a little bit more early playing time than I would at Florida State."
Surratt, who says he is interested in studying sports medicine or a related field, was a two-year starter at fullback and also played defensive tackle for Pace High in short yardage situations. However, his future in college looks to be on offense with coaches recruiting him as a fullback. "I think I had around 20 tackles last season," he says.
He should have the size and strength to be an effective blocker at the SEC level. Surratt, who throws the shot and discus in track and competes in weight lifting, says he benches 380 pounds, squats "about 550" and cleans 320.