Texas Receiver Interested in BYU

When Ross Apo, Teu Kautai and Tayo Fabuluje played at Oakridge High School in Texas and went through the process of becoming BYU Cougars, a fellow teammate and close friend in Thomas Johnson became interested in BYU. A year later, Johnson still keeps in touch with his friends and still holds BYU as one of his top college choices.

Thomas Johnson's interest in BYU came indirectly through the recruiting process of fellow teammates and close friends Ross Apo, Teu Kautai and Tayo Fabuluje. And although his friends have moved on to BYU (or left for a mission, in Kautai's case), Johnson has been preparing himself to follow in his friend's shoes in hopes that he can reach the next level.

"I've been working hard," Johnson said. "Work, working and working. I've been working on those things that I need to work on to get better, and trying to polish up those tools I need to polish up. Over the past year, I've trying to become a better athlete and learn the game more. I've been learning more schemes and just trying to become smarter."

Last year, Johnson was manning the quarterback position at Oakridge High School. He's since transferred over to Skyline High School after moving to the Dallas area. Johnson is now focusing on playing the wide receiver position and also expects to play on the defensive side of the ball as well.

"Since [moving to receiver] I've been working on that and calling coaches and asking them about this and about that. I would call my coach at night, even when he might be sleeping, and ask him questions like what you would do in this situation or that situation. I just want to make sure I know what's going on out there on the field.

"I'm also going to play either cornerback or safety. I just don't know yet, but I'm going to be playing both ways. It's kind of funny because when I was playing quarterback at Oakridge, I ran the ball for 145 carries for just a little over 1,300 yards and 25 touchdowns on the ground. We also had four wide receivers out at all times. I had over 100 pass completions for around 1,000 yards. About 90 percent of them went to Ross [Apo]. I would either throw to him or Teu [Kautai], who played in the slot. He was a big, physical slot receiver, and man, he can run."

While at Oakridge, Apo, Fabuluje and Kautai were all recruited by BYU wide receiver coach Patrick Higgins. Johnson's interest in the Cougar program grew as he watched his friends go through the recruiting process.

"I met Coach Higgins for the first time and we had a little conversation when he was talking to Ross Apo," Johnson said. "They were there just laughing it up. It just felt comfortable, you know what I mean? It was a really good vibe and Coach Higgins had a really good vibe about himself. I really liked that because you have to always have a good relationship with your position coach. Besides the quarterback, a wide receiver has to have a really good relationship with his position's coach."

According to Johnson, Coach Higgins hasn't only made the trip to Oakridge to see Apo, Kautai and Fabuluje.

"One day during the spring, I believe it was Coach Higgins that came out here a couple of times and he was watching me," said Johnson. "We were in pads practicing at that time and he came out to watch me."

Although it's been a while since he last hung around with his old friends from Oakridge, Johnson still keeps in touch with Apo and Fabuluje, and even spoke with Kautai before he entered the Missionary Training Center.

"Those guys are still my boys and we talk all the time," Johnson said. "I paged Ross the other day just to see how he was doing. He said he was doing good and was just working hard. I think he said he got a job over the summer out there or something like that. He also said he's been working out and trying to get bigger before fall camp started.

"Ross told me that he's just been getting ready to go for this fall, He said he's been practicing with a lot of the first-team receivers trying to get into the mix to get used to playing at that level. I asked him if he was going to start and he said he didn't know, but he said he was going to work hard to try and make that a possibility."

Johnson has received feedback about BYU, and so far the reports have all been very positive.

"I was told by everybody that it's fun out there," said Johnson. "I got good feedback from everybody that it's just a good vibe out there. I know some of the boys have a lot of family out there in Utah, so it's kind of like home away from home for them.

"You know, I miss playing with those guys and miss playing football with them out on the field. I just remember on the field it was very serious. We could be out there and be very focused but still have fun and be relaxed. We all just had a really good time playing together and I miss that. Playing together really brought out our ability to play at a higher level."

Johnson also knows about top 2010 quarterback recruit Jake Heaps, and is excited to watch him and Apo mesh on the football field.

"Oh man! I can't wait to see him and Ross play. I'm really ready to see those two play! Man, it's going to be exciting."

Johnson will be a high school junior this season, and although his Cougar friends are miles away in Provo, Utah, he still holds BYU in high regards and plans on following the Cougars this season.

"Oh yeah, I'm interested in BYU," Johnson said. "I'm still looking at that school. Next summer I want to go out there and see what it's like. I plan on trying to get out and check out some different colleges and I plan on going out there to see BYU. I would like to see the boys out there."

Understanding that different colleges have different things to offer, Johnson plans on getting out a little and seeing for himself what the various colleges have to offer as his own recruiting journey begins.

"There are different things about different colleges that I like, so I want to get out and see what those things are," he said. "I don't know much about what's available or what colleges have what to offer."

He may not know what different schools have to offer yet, but Johnson does know what he's looking for in a school.

"Well first off, academics," he said. "That has to come first and is a big factor because without that you really can't succeed in life. You have to plan for the life after football, you know what I mean?

"After that I would say comfort ability with the campus and the people you're around and the coaching staff. So the type of people that are around me is important.

"After that I would say how I fit in with the program and how I can possibly go to the next level with this college program."

Naturally, potential playing time is also important.

"One thing that you have to look at when you're going to play football in college is who's already playing there, who's coming in with you in your class and who might be coming in after you. You have to look at what your chances of seeing the playing field are and how long it might take for you to see it. You have to kind of look at all those things.

"Next summer, expect me to be over there in that region visiting. I want to get out there and check things out at BYU, and I'm trying to get out there to see my friends. So, expect me to be out there next year. That's what I want to do."


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