El Camino linebacker interested in BYU

Considered one of the top junior college middle linebackers in the country, Auston Johnson has four scholarship offers on the table. He's made plans and set up dates to visit each one come January. However, he's particularity interested in seeing BYU for himself, given the fact he's heard a lot from a friend who is a current Cougar.

During his freshman year at El Camino, linebacker Auston Johnson was mostly relegated to the bench.

"My first year I was pretty much a backup, and so I became a real student of the game learning the whole position," Auston said. "Then my sophomore year, everything just slowed down for me."

Confident he could be a very good football player, his big opportunity finally came on November 3.

"I knew I could play, and really when the coaches found out that I could play … that came out in the last game of the season when our starting linebacker got hurt," said Auston. "We were playing against Mt. SAC. I came in off the bench in the second quarter … and had eight tackles in the game. We ended up losing but I had a great game, and that's when our coaches realized I was going to be something special."

Despite playing as a backup, he put up some impressive stats as a sophomore.

"On the season I had 97 tackles, 13.5 tackles for a loss, 6.5 sacks, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery," Auston said. "We had some problems with eligibility and stuff like that. We lost some of our bigger d-linemen, so it put a lot of pressure on me in the middle where I had to make every tackle."

Linebacker is a position Auston was born to play, and judging by his lengthy highlight film full of play after play, it's no surprise the position runs deep in his blood.

"My dad played linebacker and he's in the hall of fame for the CFL," said Auston. "He played for a college called West Texas A&M, which is some D2 school. I just felt like linebacker was my natural position and a lot of it is because of my father."

Not only did he get it done out on the field, but at 6 feet 1 inch and 240 pounds, he's a warrior in the weight room as well.

"My highest bench press was 350, my highest squat was 520 and then my highest power clean is 340," Auston said. "I have my redshirt year, so I'll have three to play two."

To date, Auston claims four offers.

"I have offers from BYU, New Mexico, Memphis and UNLV," he said. "I have trips set up to all four in January and I'm still weighing my decisions. I have a visit set up for BYU on January 19th."

Despite Auston only listing those four offers, it also has been reported the Texas A&M has extended a scholarship offer.

Meanwhile, he is currently being recruited by BYU assistant coach Steve Kaufusi.

"Coach Kaufusi is the one that is recruiting me and he's a good guy," said Auston. "He's doing a good job of recruiting me and he's a really nice guy who is straightforward. He's just letting me know the situation. He's a good coach and is doing a good job."

When Auston visits BYU, there are a couple of things he'll be looking for.

"I just want to see the surroundings and see what it's all about," he said. "I want to meet the coaches and [check out] academics and stuff like that."

He's received some very positive feedback on BYU from a former teammate.

"I heard good things about BYU from one of my old teammates that goes there: Marques Johnson," said Auston. "He goes there and he was giving me the inside perspective about BYU. He said it's just a chill place, and he said it's a lot like my home town Chino. He said I would like it and it's a relaxing place.

"He said it's a cool and chill environment and there's not a lot of rowdiness. People say BYU is boring and you can't do this or you can't do that, but you have to think of it this way: when you go to BYU, you're going there for all the right reasons. You're going there to play football and to get an education. He said you have to understand that when you sign that paper, so I know that if I do go to BYU, that's what I'm signing up for."

Marques also told Auston about what it's like being among the people at BYU.

"He said the people up there are great and they love you," Auston said. "He said the fan support is great and the people are great. He said the guys on the team are great and everybody supports one another up there and they all take care of one another. He said it's great."

With nose guard Romney Fuga graduating following this season, Marques – who redshirted this year – will be poised to take over for the 2013 season.

"I could use Marques in the middle in front of me," said Auston with a laugh. "He's a big boy! I think it would be great because it would be like the old days here at El Camino a little bit. He used to be on me a little bit when I was a freshman. You know, because he sort of brought me in because I was new out here in L.A., and so he brought me in and showed me the ropes.

"Playing behind him was great because I never got touched, really! I never got touched because he took on double teams and stuff. Man, Marques is cool. He's like a big brother. He told me that BYU likes me and that I need to come out there."

Kaufusi, the same coach that is recruiting Auston, is also the one developing Marques as a nose guard. The fact that Marques committed to BYU caused Auston to take notice.

"I just sent an email out to [BYU] and they responded to it," Auston said. "After that, the rest is history and they started recruiting me. I was emailing BYU about my film, and I knew they were losing their two inside backers to graduation this year. They lose [Brandon] Ogletree and [Uona] Kaveinga because they're seniors, so I thought, ‘Why not send them an email? They probably need inside linebackers.' I just thought, ‘Why not? They win games and they play tough teams. I could see myself playing there.'"

When it comes to BYU, there's a lot to look forward to.

"The thing about BYU that I like about them is their schedule," said Auston. "People look at BYU and they're going to be like, ‘They can't play with those teams,' but they schedule some of the toughest schools in the nation. If you look at what BYU did against Notre Dame, who's playing in the national championship game against Alabama this year, they probably should have won that game. So, I don't agree with some who might say that, and if it weren't for a few missed passes, the outcome of the game might have been different."

Another attraction is the highly ranked defense Coach Mendenhall has established within the program.

"BYU plays an aggressive style of defense. They like to blitz a lot and I like their 3-4 defensive scheme and what they do. I also like how they're not scared to play anybody. They've got Texas, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Boise State this year and coming up. Going there would be like a challenge, and I think also going there, it would make me more focused."

He feels the reason he would be more focused at BYU is because of the honor code.

"They have a code there that you have to live by," he said. "With that code, you know, you just have to respect that. It makes you really focused on school and football to make sure you do everything right while you're there."

He views it as a positive and an attraction rather than the other way around.

"I mean, I like it just because it's just clean living and you just focus on what's important," Auston said. "It's like when I came to El Camino, I came out here from Chino Hills and didn't know anybody. I just came out here to L.A. to focus on school and football and I think that helped a lot. At BYU, you're going to be focused. It's going to be football and school, football and school, and that's pretty much about it."

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