Johnston is the son of San Diego Chargers' strength and conditioning coach Kent Johnston. The younger Johnston measured at the Nike SPARQ Combine in Arlington, and achieved a SPARQ rating of 124.86, the 12th-highest score in the nation during 2014 testing. For comparison's sake, Baylor commit JaMycal Hasty posted a score of 113.13, the 58th-best score this year.
Johnston sat down with Bears Illustrated for a profile the morning after committing.
Why did you pick Baylor?
I've always wanted to play, I've always loved the Waco area, and I've always wanted to play for Baylor. After praying and talking over with my dad, I didn't see any see any cons, I only saw pros. I wanted to be part of something special.
For those who haven't seen much of you, how do you describe yourself as a player?
I like to play fast. I don't like to hesitate, because you can't do that, and at the college level you really can't do that. The college game is so fast, and I think my game is well-suited for that.
How do you think you fit in this defense?
I think they want me as probably their Nickelback position. I can cover the field and I can run. My lateral movement is better than usual, which is a blessing. They want me to play the back where I can cover the field and cover ground.
How did your relationship with the coaching staff play into your decision?
Me and Coach Gush, we're pretty tight. I've always like him, he's a cool guy. He's a stern coach, and I just respect that about him and he's a good bio in the past and I wanted to play for him. Coach Bennett is a cool guy too, and is really funny. I know he's a yeller, and I like that because they get the job done.
And then I talked to Coach Briles on the phone yesterday and that was kind of the clincher. They had just talked about how bad they wanted me, and that made me feel good. They wanted me to be a defensive leader because they know I'm athletic enough to show that I have leadership. I like the coaching staff a lot and I like where they're heading towards.
Coach Briles has taken a lot of "lower-rated players," especially at linebacker, and turned them into diamonds; do you think you're next?
I feel like I'll fit in perfectly. A lot of that five-star crap, a lot of it is politics because I went to a smaller school. I went to a big ol' 6A up in Ohio, which was an all-boy's school called St. Edward's. They had a powerhouse football program; they were ranked third in the nation my freshman year. I've played with a few guys, so I know I can play at the next level. I've got this senior season left and I want to make it count, but I'm ready to be a Bear.
What was their recruiting pitch?
They said the main goal was to make us better men and then to win the National Championship, which is huge. That's what everyone is going towards, so that made me get a little jacked up! I got excited and I committed. I'm fired up.
Do you plan on early enrolling?
It'll be summer, I don't plan on early enrolling.
How is it being part of this program at this time in history?
It's awesome. I remember six years ago when I was in middle school, I never thought I would want to be a Bear. But now, they've offered, and the success they've had, it's an honor and a privilege just to have the chance to be a Baylor Bear and play for them and perform. I know I'll do everything I can to perform and play to the best of my abilities.