February 18, 2009 Edition

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Derek Johnson, a senior at Hoxie High School, signs his letter of intent to play football at the University of Texas, as his grandmother, Freddie White (seated), watches. Also on hand for the ceremony were (standing, from left): his grandfather, Carl White; aunts, Linda White and Tina Young; and uncles, Byron Cleveland and Charles White.

Johnson signs with Longhorns

Gretchen Hunt

Hoxie High School's Derek Johnson made it official on Feb. 4 when he signed his letter of intent to play football at the University of Texas.

Johnson had made a verbal commitment with the Longhorns prior to his senior season with the Mustangs.

A signing ceremony was held Feb. 4 at Hoxie School for Johnson and three teammates, Thomas Brady, Josh Cypret and Dakota Richardson, who will also play at the collegiate level (see related stories).

A crowd watched and cheered as Johnson and his family members gave the Longhorn "Hook Em' Horns" signal after he signed his commitment.

Johnson, who was recruited by several Division I schools, said meeting the coaches at Texas helped him make his decision, as well as visiting Austin, where the university is located.

"For it to be a big city, it still feels like a hometown," he said.

During his senior season at Hoxie, Johnson recorded 76 tackles, 12 of which were for a loss of yardage. He also had three sacks, caused one fumble and returned one fumble for a touchdown.

"It's been fun," Johnson said of his time at Hoxie, though he admitted he did not like it at first, adjusting to small-town life after living in El Paso, Texas. "I met Coach (Tom) Sears and sparks flew from there."

He said Sears and the other coaches have helped him prepare for the next level.

"Our football program, weightlifting, everything is intense," he said. "Our coaches push you to give everything you have to give. I feel like that is what they'll do at the college level too."

In addition to his teammates, Johnson had several family members on hand at his signing including his grandmother, Freddie White; grandfather, Carl White; aunts, Linda White and Tina Young; and uncles, Byron Cleveland and Charles White.

Johnson said he has many goals for the future including "winning a national championship, hopefully being able to go pro and just getting better at my sport."

Sears said Johnson and his fellow signees all deserve praise for what they have accomplished.

"I'm very proud of each one of these young men and what they have accomplished," he said. "The work they have done on the field and in the classroom has given them the opportunity to play college football."

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