At this year's NIKE combine in Auburn, Alabama, only one player listed as solely a linebacker can lead all other linebackers when it comes to flat out quicks. Rory's 4.38 , made him that linebacker as he was the only player listed as a LB only to finish amongst the top twenty participating in this year's camp. As they say, he's got speed to burn and that's just one of the reasons why he's getting the attention he is.
Speed isn't all Rory is about though as he likes to considers himself a little more rounded. His stats would bear that out, Rory tallying 93 tackles, 15 for loss including 11 sacks. It takes more than just a quick step to get those kinds of numbers. "I'm fast, but I am aggressive to." Rory said. "Back there, when I got them, I just zone out and try to kill the guy with the ball."
His aggressiveness isn't accentuated verbally however as Rory likes to sneak up on them, if that's even possible. "I like to be quiet out there." he said. "I just play my game and don't say too much and then if you don't expect me, that's when I got you."
A little strategy it would seem compliments a game of sheer physicality, but much of Johnson's effectiveness does indeed come down to that blazing speed. So much so, that he's going to be a two-way player this year, taking his wares to the other side of the ball at running back. Something you would assume someone of his size (6'0" and 200+ lbs.) Is aptly suited to. Rory sure thinks so. "It's about time." Rory said of him being utilized at running back. "I don't need the ball that much, but if I can help the team, that's what I want to do. Anything to help get a win."
It is possible that before the season is over, some schools may be recruiting Johnson as a running back, but Johnson still has an affection for the other side of the ball. You can probably guess why. "I'd rather be the one doing the hitting then being the one getting hit." he said.
It's probably Rory's prowess at hitting and tackling that will be getting him noticed or more to the point, it's what has gotten him noticed thus far. Schools like Nebraska, LSU, Auburn, Southern Miss, West Virginia, Ole Miss and Louisiana Tech have already offered the young man to play for them with a bevy of other schools taking hard looks, many expected to follow the aforementioned schools' with offers of their own.
As for any favorites amongst those or anyone else, Rory said that right now, two teams stood out. "Probably LSU and Nebraska." Rory said. "I like LSU because it's not too far from home, but at Nebraska, that's a great place to get noticed and get some TV time."
You would think it almost ironic that a young man who's already getting noticed plenty would set as part of his criteria in his school of choice as being a place to get noticed, but nowadays, that's not ironic, it's almost expected.
As for as his own expectations are concerned when making that choice, here's one speedster that is more than willing to take the slow-winding way down the road as he is no hurry to make a commitment to anyone. "I just want to play it out." Johnson stated. "I want to take my visits and just see what I feel like after that."
Rory is going to have a somewhat busy off-season as he will be attending several camps, first to Mississippi state, then to Nebraska this month as well, LSU, Ole Miss and Southern Miss following that.
Steve Ryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-730-5619
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