Bulldogs Beat

Toby Johnson wishes he had another year at Georgia

ATHENS - Regrets, yes, Toby Johnson has a few.

He wishes he had been a better shape when he arrived at Georgia last year. He wishes he had thought harder about redshirting. He wishes that Saturday's game would not be his last at Sanford Stadium.

It was just 19 months ago that Johnson, a defensive lineman, signed with Georgia. He was a ballyhooed junior college prospect expected to make a big contribution, perhaps become a star.

Instead his career is about to end after some nice moments, but only a few starts, and no major recognition.

"It really feels like my time went by fast. I wish I had another year to show what I'm really capable of doing," Johnson said after Monday's practice. "I know this year I've made a couple plays here and there. But I feel like another year, I definitely could have helped this team more."

Johnson has actually had a good year: Two sacks and five tackles-for-loss, the most in either category for a Bulldog defensive lineman. He also has 23 tackles.

But this season was the kind that he would rather build on, rather than finish on. His junior season amounted to a lost one, recording just seven tackles and zero sacks while starting zero games.

Johnson suffered a torn ACL during his sophomore season at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College. He then focused on trying to get back on the field right away, which ended up being a mistake. He didn't get in good enough condition to actually play well.

"The biggest thing I know I should've done was just be in shape when I got here," Johnson said.

It also took time to learn the system, to learn the truly right way to practice and play. That's an issue for many junior college prospects, who feel pressure to play right away, arriving at school as a junior.

"But I'm happy for the time I've been here," Johnson said. "I'm happy for the coaches for giving me the opportunity, and I'm happy for my teammates for welcoming me here."