Vols Pursue Super Safety

What a difference a few days can make in recruiting. On Sunday, Daniel Johnson listed his five favorites and Tennessee wasn't included. Today he tells IT not only is UT still in the running, it's one of his top three, and he will take a visit to Knoxville. It won't be the first trip to The Hill for this uber DB nor likely his last. Read why in this Inside Tennessee exclusive.

In a world of prime-time prospects and blue chip ball players, Daniel Johnson stands out from the crowd in terms of size and speed. While he's rated a three-star prospect the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Johnson has five-star credentials and sub 4.5 speed.

"I ran the 40 last spring and they clocked me in a 4.38," he said. "I haven't run at any combines or anything."

He did run for the Spring Woods High School track team and posted some imposing electronic times. "I run the 100 and 200 (meters) in track," he said. "My best time in the 100 is a 10.43. My best time in the 200 is 21.26."

That combination of size and speed, plus good strength as underscored by his 280-pound bench press, should be enough to lift Johnson higher than his current No. 31 ranking among safety prospects in the Class of 2006, but he needs to refine his coverage skills in order to harness his athletic gifts. That makes him something of a project, albeit one with tremendous upside as indicated by this Scout.com evaluation.

"An absolute specimen with a tremendous size/speed package. Plays cornerback but projects as a strong safety or outside linebacker on the next level. A bit raw as a DB, the track speed has D.J. showing a great deal of upside/potential for the next level."

Johnson, who has a 34-inch vertical, needed the reps of a full senior season. Unfortunately an injury from game one severely restricted his playing time.

"I got injured in the first game and I didn't get to participate in as many games as I wanted," he said. "I still played as well as I expected this year when I was able to play."

Although Johnson has played primarily at cornerback and safety in high school (intercepting three passes as a junior), he projects as a safety or even linebacker in college. He prefers safety and he has been offered scholarships to play there by such teams as Oklahoma, Miami, Arkansas and Oklahoma State.

"I play safety," he said. "Everybody is talking to me about playing safety in college. Nobody has mentioned playing linebacker.

"I like playing free safety. I'm physical and aggressive. I like to come up and hit and I've got the speed to cover a lot of ground."

Johnson has visited Texas Tech (Nov. 18) and is slated to visit Texas A&M. But his next visit will be to Tennessee.

"They rescheduled my visit from Dec. 16th to Jan. 13th," Johnson said of his Knoxville visit. "Coach (Larry) Slade is recruiting me. I went to Texas Tech and I'm going to visit Texas A&M on Jan. 21st. Those are my three visits and I plan to choose from one of those schools."

When asked what he liked about Tennessee, Johnson isolated on something very near and dear to his heart.

"My brother goes to Tennessee," he revealed. "He's No. 26, Cory Campbell. I like the football program there. It's really motivating to be around. I like the Vol Walk, but I haven't participated in that yet."

When asked how Corey was doing, Johnson had a ready answer:

"Corey is doing great. He's in the room asleep."

The Vols may have a home feel advantage in this one.

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