Around 6 p.m. central standard time Friday, the much-anticipated Dillon Johnson college decision illuminated the airwaves of social media. Those close to the star St. Joseph High School running back probably had a good idea before the announcement that this lifelong maroon and white fan would choose to play his collegiate ball at Mississippi State University. “There were two main reasons why I chose to be a Bulldog,” Johnson said. “First, I’ve always been a big fan of Mississippi State. Second, I have a chance to play quite a bit or even start as a true freshman.”
Mississippi State’s running back core was depleted by the 2019 NFL draft, leaving an opportunity for Johnson to contribute immediately. Throughout the recruiting process, Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead stayed in contact with Johnson via text and Face Time. He reminded the young recruit that the Bulldogs could really use his talent and that the Bulldogs were poised to compete for a national championship. Johnson also formed a close bond with Bulldogs’ running backs coach, Terry Richardson.
Johnson visited the Starkville campus five times during the recruitment process. A lifelong affection for the Bulldogs teamed with a relentless recruitment process made a strong case for Mississippi State. A couple of other schools had an outside shot at snagging the Fighting Irish standout. But, the fit just wasn’t right. “I was also considering Oregon and Ole Miss,” Johnson said. “My teammate, Trey Benson committed to Oregon and was helping them try to recruit me as well. And we’ve always liked playing together. But, Oregon wanted me to play safety and I wanted to play running back.”
As a high school player, Johnson plays the quarterback position. His versatility and ability to make plays with his feet made him a running threat particularly on broken plays. In preparation for the physicality of the Southeastern Conference, Johnson has put on 25 pounds of muscle sending him well north of 200 pounds. “I’ve prepared myself physically, spiritually and mentally to be successful from the minute I step foot on campus,” he said. “With God all things are possible. And I’m glad that I have the support of my family, friends and St. Joe High School.”