Incoming Football Player Plans To "Do His Thing"

One of Auburn's signees for the Class of 2004 talks about his plans for the summer and what he's doing to get ready for college football.

Butler, Ala.-–When the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic takes place in Mobile in two weeks, Auburn's future will be represented with both Tony Bell and Jason Bosley playing for Alabama while Steve Gandy and Michael McLaughlin will suit up for Mississippi. One player that won't see any action though is linebacker Merrill Johnson from Choctaw County High.

A dominating player in high school from his linebacker spot for Choctaw County, Johnson produced 184 tackles, nine sacks and caused four fumbles as a senior to earn Class 4A All-State honors by the Alabama Sports Writers Association and he was one of three finalists for the Class 4A Lineman of the Year. Those numbers were good enough for the 6-1, 202-pounder to get a scholarship offer from Coach Tommy Tuberville and the Tigers. Johnson, who will go through graduation ceremonies on Monday evening, says that his main goal now is getting ready for Auburn by coming to school in the summer.

"Everything is going good," Johnson tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "I'm just waiting to come to Auburn now. I didn't play any sports this spring. All I did was work out and run. My high school career is over now. It was fun, but now it's time to move on.

"I come to Auburn June 6-8 for Camp War Eagle," Johnson adds. "I come back June 13 for good. I was offered to play in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game and the North-South All-Star game, but I chose not to."

Merrill Johnson

A four-year starter at linebacker and occasionally seeing time at running back, Johnson had 401 career tackles and 20 sacks while playing all three positions in Choctaw County's 4-3 scheme. In addition to his defensive numbers he also rushed the ball 50 times for just over 400 yards as a senior.

Looking for depth at the linebacker positions, Auburn is expected to give him his first look at weakside linebacker. Similar to current starter Travis Williams in size and speed (4.54 40-yard dash), Johnson is hoping to make an impact as a true freshman and help Auburn to a good season. First he must endure the summer and workouts from Coach Kevin Yoxall. Johnson has already started on the workouts and says he's getting used to the type of work he'll be doing for the next four years.

"It's nice," Johnson says. "It's hard work though. My goal is to come up there and find a spot to play. I don't know want to get redshirted my first year. I want to get a little playing time and have some experience. I just want to do my thing and have fun."


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