After his first scheduled official visit fell through three weeks ago due to cancelled flights, MSU's remaining target for the 2013 class will take his official visit to Mississippi State this weekend. 4-star Hutchinson Community College defensive tackle Toby Johnson will visit campus this weekend, with his final decision and signing to follow soon after on February 19th.
Currently, Johnson is listed to be down to four final schools: Oklahoma, Auburn, Georgia, and Mississippi State. After his first visit fell through on the weekend of January 25th, Johnson set up visits for both MSU and Auburn in a four day span the next weekend, the first one in February. After giving it more thought, however, Johnson felt it would be best to give both schools a full visit, and he moved back his MSU visit and subsequently his decision past signing day.
For awhile, it was thought that Georgia was in the lead for Toby's services. After moving from Mississippi when he was 14, Johnson lived in nearby Atlanta, and always admired the red and black Bulldawgs. He took his official visit there on December 7th, and they were his assumed leader for awhile. But that was before his main recruiter, former Georgia DL coach Rodney Garner, took a job at Auburn. After that change happened, Johnson obviously felt that he needed to visit the Tigers as well. He probably would've visited them anyways, but having Garner on staff definitely didn't hurt.
His final suitor besides MSU was Oklahoma, but they appear to be all but out of the running. Johnson visited the Sooners last fall, but within the past week, Bob Stoops fired Johnson's main recruiter, Jackie Shipp, and Johnson was publicly unhappy about it
#OU fired Coach Shipp i loved that guy he was like a father figure to me #BoomerSooner thats the worst thing yall could've done rite now— Toby Johnson (@Future020113SEC) February 12, 2013
Although Georgia was the assumed favorite for awhile, many think Johnson's decision could now potentially come down to Auburn and Mississippi State. As we mentioned before, Johnson grew up in Mississippi, and his mother still lives in the delta area. That could play an important part in his decision, especially if she comes with him to visit campus this weekend. Another interesting bit is that Johnson grew up rooting for MSU and Auburn. Here's what he told the AJC last fall before his visit to Georgia:
"I wasn't a Georgia fan growing up but I wasn't in the state early enough to grow up a fan of the Bulldogs. I liked Auburn and Mississippi State."
It also has to play into State's favor that they get Johnson's final visit this weekend before he signs next Tuesday. There was some worry that he wouldn't visit after his Auburn one if it went well, but although he did seemingly enjoy it, he came away still wanting to visit MSU, and that was big for the Bulldogs.
Should he decide to sign with MSU, Johnson would be another prize signee in Dan Mullen's recruiting class. If he is able to get healthy enough to play next season, he could certainly bolster the depth up front on the defense. Johnson is currently rehabbing a torn ACL suffered late last season in November. Even if he isn't able to go this fall, Johnson could redshirt and be a big part of the 2014 defense alongside juniors Quay Evans and Nick James in the middle.
Wherever Johnson decides to sign, he will definitely make a big impact. And the destination of where he will be making that impact next fall should be known pretty soon.
[UPDATE - 9:00a.m.] - looks like Johnson has arrived on campus
Whats up #MissState— Toby Johnson (@Future020113SEC) February 15, 2013
Also, we said we thought Toby's mom would be joining him on his visit this weekend. Looks like that is the case
This gotta be one of the happiest day of my life smh i haven't seen my mom in 2 years #Ready— Toby Johnson (@Future020113SEC) February 15, 2013