"I've been getting recruited by Ole Miss since my freshman year," Johnston said. "They offered me around a year and half ago. We are talking about getting an official visit set up. I've never been over there so I want to go check things out. I'm trying to get over there for a game."
Coach Grant Heard is recruiting him for Ole Miss.
"We have a great relationship. I have been building a relationship with coaches (Grant) Heard and (Dave) Wommack for a long time. Like I said they started recruiting me when I was a freshman. I like the way they play defense. They fly around. They are called the Landsharks for a reason."
The Rebels are in search to fill some holes at linebacker and Thomas sees opportunities.
"Yes, they always let me know that there will be opportunities for me to come in and play as a true freshman. Obviously that is something I want to do. I want to play as a true freshman."
How big of a factor is playing as a true freshman?
"I really do want to come in and play, but if I need a year to develop I'll take a redshirt. I'm fine with that, but I want a chance to play if the opportunity is there."
Who are the main schools involved right now?
"Michigan State, Iowa, Ole Miss, LSU, Arizona State, and Arkansas. Mississippi State is in my top seven as well. I've already taken an official visit to Arkansas. Now I have to figure out my other four visits."
What are the most important factors when trying to decide which schools to fill out the visit list?
"I don't want to step on campus and just be another number. I want to be a difference maker for their defense and have a chance to lead. I just want an opportunity to come in and play right away and be in a family atmosphere."
Thomas had a chance to watch two of his finalist play over the weekend.
"I watched both of their linebackers. Since I was on my official visit I tried to key in on Arkansas' linebackers a little more but I got to watch both of their linebackers. I watched Brooks Ellis (for Arkansas) and tried to pick up on some of his techniques. I watched how he separated form the offense. I watched (Ole Miss) linebacker Demarcus Gates. He did a lot of good things. It was a good game to watch."
This is not his first trip to Fayetteville.
"This was my second visit there. I tripped over there this summer, but my mother didn't get to come with me. This trip was more about her getting to see the campus. She checked it out and loved everything about it. She loved the atmosphere. It was awesome."
Another Mississippi school, State, is also in the picture.
"Coach (Peter) Sirmon is a good coach. I liked my visit when I went up there unofficially this summer. I had a good time sitting down with coach Simon during my trip there this summer. Their facilities are top notch. I liked that visit."
Some might wonder how Iowa made the list for the South Alabama resident. There's a reason.
"I have family in Iowa. I want to get a chance to get up there and go see a game and also get to see some of my family, but it's more than just that. I love Big 10 football. It's a great league."
Arizona State is another school across the country that is on his list.
"Chip Lindsey recruited me hard when he was at Southern Mississippi. He's stayed in contact with me the whole time. I told him I would love to come out there and check it out for myself. Coach Lindsey tells me that it's a great place. We have a great relationship."
LSU is the school he is most familiar.
"I have been down there more than any school. The atmosphere is crazy over there. I love it. My teammate Justin Thomas is committed to them. He's also visiting them so we'll probably take it together."
There is no timeframe for a decision.
"I just want to take all of my officials first. I'm not graduating early. I'm finishing out my baseball career here. I'm in no hurry. If I feel like when the timing is right I'll go ahead and commit."
In the meantime he's aiming to leave Spanish Fort on a high note.
"We are clicking on all cy landers. Our offense is on track now. Our defense has played lights out all season but one game. I think we are clicking on all cy landers now at the right time of the year. We are just getting ourselves ready for the playoffs. That starts in two weeks."
Johnston feels like his game has gone up a level this season.
"I played outside linebacker last season. Now I'm playing middle linebacker. It's allowed me to make so many more plays. You aren't limited to one side of the field at mike. I worked on my speed this offseason. It's helped me out a lot. I'm being physical in the box and filling lanes. I love it at middle."
Yancy Porter is the recruiting analyst for the Ole Miss Spirit and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org