Ole Miss needs linebackers in the worst way, so even after landing commitments from a trio of ‘backers (including blue-chip early enrollee Breon Dixon), three-star Thomas Johnston was an important target for the Rebels. The leading tackler in Alabama high school history and a top-25 outside linebacker prospect was thought to be choosing between Ole Miss, Arkansas and Iowa.
Which is why it came as a surprise on Tuesday morning when Johnston publicly committed to UAB, a school that’s spent the last two years without a football program. After shuttering its doors in 2015, the Blazers will be making a return to the field next season.
Picking UAB over a host of SEC schools—including Auburn, which wanted Johnston to move to H-back—makes more sense when put into the context that his brother signed with UAB last year as a quarterback.
"I always had a dream of playing football with my brother in college," Johnston told AL.com. "We shared that dream. We often talked about that over the years growing up together. We had no idea how that would actually happen. We always thought it would be a package deal in a sense—one on defense, the other on offense—dreaming of continuing to win championships. God led me to the same spot with my brother."
It’s a tough loss for an Ole Miss defense that desperately needs sure tacklers, but credit Johnston for making his own decision. The guy just wants to play ball with his brother.