Johnson is a 6-3, 300-pound defensive tackle from Hoxie, Ark. and, according to his head coach, the Longhorns are prepared to give him a scholarship offer.
"He's been approved to receive an offer from Texas, so we're going to go down there and meet with the coaching staff," said Hoxie High School head coach Tom Sears.
According to Sears, Texas head coach Mack Brown would prefer to meet Johnson in person before officially extending the scholarship offer. So, Johnson has decided he'll make the trip. He and Sears plan on heading down to Austin during the first week in June, but the exact date has not been set.
Johnson has become a hot commodity in recruiting as of late. Oklahoma, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Kansas and Arkansas State have all extended scholarship offers to the talented defensive tackle. Johnson has also been approved for an offer from Tennessee, same as Texas.
But how did the Longhorns find Johnson? Turns out, it was Sears that contacted Texas.
"The way we did it with Derek was we sat down and asked him the ones he's interested in," said Sears. "He could have even more offers. For example, we've been contacted by USC, but we've already told them he's not interested in going that far."
When he sat down with Sears, Johnson mentioned the Texas Longhorns as one of his favorite schools. So, Sears contacted the Texas coaching staff and to let them know that the big man is interested in UT. As of late, the interest has been very mutual and this week Texas let Sears know that Johnson will receive an offer if he comes down for a visit.
Johnson has made it clear that at this point his top two are Texas and his home-state Razorbacks. Arkansas has the edge when it comes to distance, for sure. However, Johnson has connections in both states. He was born Arkansas, but in the 2nd grade he moved to El Paso and lived there until he was in the 9th grade, when he moved back to Arkansas and went to Hoxie High School.
He's already visited the Arkansas campus and said of the school: "It's a pretty nice campus and they have pretty nice facilities. So far the coaches seem like pretty good guys."
At the time, Johnson said Arkansas was his No. 1 and he'd be making his decision very soon. But that was before Texas let him know an offer was on the way. In June he'll be heading down Austin to check out Texas before making his choice, meaning the Longhorns are in a strong position to land the Hoxie defensive tackle.
Sears told Inside Texas that UT, as well as all of the other school after him, are interested in Johnson primarily because of his moter.
"He is tenacious," said Sears. "He has a passion to get to the football and will go across the field to make a play."
He may weigh 300 pounds, but Johnson has a personal best of a 4.9 in the 40 and consistently runs a 5-flat.
"He runs like a big fullback," said Sears.
To go with his speed, Sears said the big DT possesses monstrous strength. Johnson has a 330-pound bench press, a 500 squat, a 300 power clean and, as Sears put it, an "unreal" 720-pound dead lift.
Sears said Johnson has a good attitude and is a likable, laid-back person off-the-field, which goes counter to his intensity and tenacity on the field.
"Something changes. When it comes time to play, he is intense," said Sears.
The only concern with Johnson could be academics, but Sears said, while his core GPA is a "little low", the Johnson is working hard and will take courses this summer. Along with his promise to get his GPA up over a 3.0, Johnson scored an 18 on the ACT and those combined have convinced the Longhorns that he'll have what it takes to make it at UT.
Last season for Hoxie, Johnson had 60 tackles and fives sacks while helping his team to a 10-2 record.