You can officially put wraps on the Mississippi State 2013 football recruiting class, and unfortunately, that class won't feature one extra name they were hoping to add today.
4-star Hutchinson C.C. defensive tackle Toby Johnson has announced his intentions to sign with the Georgia Bulldogs, which was made public this afternoon through a statement via the Hutchinson C.C. Athletics Twitter Feed.
Hutchinson CC defensive tackle Toby Johnson is heading to Georgia. He's the 4th Blue Dragon to sign with an SEC school this year— hutchsports (@hutchsports) February 19, 2013
Johnson originally was scheduled to announce his decision via live stream on the school's athletics site, but the feed went from pre-start to finished, without any video ever showing on-screen. Then came the announcement via the Hutchinson Twitter feed that Johnson was headed to Georgia, and just like that, it was over. We were tipped to this a bit just before the announcement was scheduled to start at 2 p.m., as ESPN reported that there were talks that Johnson was now leaning towards Georgia, but still, it seemed to most of us to be a bit of a stretch considering his involvement, or lack thereof, with Georgia as of late. It was a weird sequence of events to say the least, but maybe in the end Johnson just wanted to keep things more private, and I can respect that. There were nearly 20,000 page views on the feed before the announcement was made on the Twitter page, so there was definitely plenty of interest in Johnson's decision.
The decision to sign with Georgia bewildered many, as it was thought that Johnson's recruitment was down to Auburn and MSU. Johnson did have Georgia as a favorite for a long time early on, naming the Bulldawgs his favorites following a visit there in early December. However, Johnson continued to look at other schools, somewhat cooling off with Georgia after that. I'm assuming that's because the Georgia DL coach, Rodney Garner, left for Auburn around that time, but I don't know that. Just an assumption. Johnson is an Atlanta area native, as he moved there from Mississippi sometime in his early teens.
The Georgia decision comes as a surprise to me for two reasons: 1) He told the AJC just yesterday that he hadn't talked to Georgia in awhile, and 2) his recruiter at Georgia, DL coach Rodney Gardner, left UGA to go to join Gus Malzahn's staff at Auburn. If anywhere besides MSU, I figured Johnson would've ended up there. Oh well. This shows how much the fans and even some recruiting experts know sometimes with regards to where these guys want to ultimately go, or what happens sometimes behind the scenes. That's certainly not a shot at any recruiting writer or particular fan base, it's simply a tip of the cap to the process of recruiting, and just how complex it can be to decipher sometimes.
After his first official visit was cancelled several weeks ago due to cancelled flights, Johnson was in Starkville this past weekend visiting MSU, and was joined by his mother and other family members. State felt good about their chances to sign Toby, especially given the proximity of where his mother lives to Starkville. But in the end, Johnson opted to head to Athens to play for Mark Richt's Bulldawgs instead.
Best of luck to Toby in his future endeavors in Athens.