Toby Johnson chooses Georgia

Updated: February 20, 2013, 10:31 AM ET
By Damon Sayles and Radi Nabulsi | ESPN.com

Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College defensive tackle Toby Johnson, the nation's No. 4 prospect in the ESPN Junior College 100, committed to Georgia on Tuesday during a press conference at Hutchinson.

Johnson, who played high school football in College Park, Ga., chose the Bulldogs over offers from Auburn, Mississippi State and Oklahoma.

"I called Mark Richt last night and told him I was coming," Johnson said. "He was fired up. They want me to play defensive end, but I will move inside in the nickel package."

Johnson became Georgia's 33rd commitment and put a cherry on top of an already stacked Bulldogs 2013 class. He is the top-ranked defensive tackle and No. 7 defensive lineman in the class.

Johnson visited Mississippi State over the weekend and was thought to be leaning toward playing in Starkville, Miss. The 6-foot-4, 305-pound defensive tackle visited Auburn the weekend of Feb. 8 and visited Georgia back in December.

He also made visits to Oklahoma and Missouri in September and December, respectively. But many felt the decision would come down to Mississippi State, Georgia and Auburn because of the relationships he built with members of each coaching staff.

"He had a lot of options, No. 1, but trying to figure out which would be best, it was real tough," said Hutchinson coach Rion Rhoades.

As weeks passed, however, some thought Georgia -- a program Johnson considered a longtime leader -- was looking more like a dark horse candidate while Auburn and Mississippi State were front-runners.

But Georgia seemed to creep back in the picture when Chris Wilson left Mississippi State to take a defensive line position with Georgia.

"I liked Coach Wilson when he was at Mississippi State," Johnson told ESPN's DawgNation in January. "I think he can make me better each and every day. He can make me versatile and help me get to the next level."

A second-team NJCAA All-American, Johnson finished the year with 37 tackles, three sacks and four pass breakups in nine games. Johnson, who is rehabbing a torn ACL in his right knee, is expected to be an immediate contributor for Georgia.

Radi Nabulsi | email

Reporter, DawgNation