June 4, 2008 Edition

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Johnson commits to
University of Texas

Derek Johnson
Gretchen Hunt

Derek Johnson, a standout on the Hoxie Mustang football team, will enjoy a luxury that few seniors enjoy. He will be able to play his final high school season with his college plans already set.

Johnson recently made a verbal commitment to the Division I University of Texas Longhorns after being heavily recruited by several schools.

Hoxie coach Tom Sears said Johnson received scholarship offers from the University of Arkansas, the University of Tennessee, the University of Oklahoma, Baylor, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Arkansas State University and the University of Memphis.

"This is a great accomplishment for him," Sears said. "Very few kids get the opportunity to have scholarship offers their senior year, let alone going into their senior year."

Johnson said it feels good to have the decision made.

"Texas feels like home to me," he said. "I liked the facilities and all the coaches that were down there."

Sears said Johnson was recruited as a defensive tackle, a position he will be able to focus on even more during his senior season at HHS. Last year, he played as center, as well, but this year Sears plans to play him only on defense.

"Now that I'm just on defense, it will help me stay focused on just going one way, and I'll have a lot more energy," Johnson said.

Johnson had 88 tackles and five sacks during his junior season with the Mustangs.

Sears said for now Johnson is looking forward to his final year in green.

"Making his decision now lets him just focus on the season," Sears said. "He can just relax and play and not worry about recruiters and making that kind of decision."

Johnson will be the 13th Mustang to advance to the collegiate level under Coach Sears' leadership.

"We're just pleased with the guys who have been able to go on and further themselves and play college ball," Sears said. "We hope to have a few more in this class, also."

Johnson credits his time at Hoxie for his development as a player, saying after moving several times, he was glad to be able to stay at one school for his entire high school career.

"Hoxie feels pretty much like home," he said. "Coach Tom Sears is the best coach I've played under. He and Mr. (Dennis) Truxler have helped me to get to where I am today."

Johnson is the son of Theresa Brown and grandson of Freddie White and Carl White, all of Walnut Ridge.

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