Brian Howell / BuffZone.com
John Leyba / The Denver Post
CENTENNIAL — College coaches are still contacting Austin Johnson fairly regularly, but the Highlands Ranch High School offensive lineman isn’t interested.
“That’s kind of behind me,” he said of the recruiting process. “I’m not looking for another place to go. I’m just focused on CU and staying home.”
Johnson gave his verbal commitment to Colorado in January, and before going through a workout at SixZero Strength and Fitness on Thursday evening, made it clear he’s all in on the Buffaloes.
“I’m pretty excited,” he said. “It feels good to know where I’m going and find my home. Now I can focus on becoming a Buff and just getting prepared.”
Part of Johnson’s preparation, which includes his technique work at SixZero, is rebuilding his strength.
“My sophomore year I was 275, but I dropped down to 225 because I got real sick during (last) season,” he said. “Now I’m just trying to make my way back up there.”
Johnson now has 265 pounds on his 6-foot-4 frame and is looking to get to the 280-285 range by the time he gets to CU — possibly in January as an early enrollee.
“I’m working out two times a day, eating healthy,” he said. “I feel stronger than ever and feel faster. I feel good.”
Johnson is one of six players committed to CU for the class of 2019, and one of three from an in-state school. CU’s class also includes Valor Christian running back Joshia Davis and Palmer Ridge quarterback Ty Evans.
From out of state, the Buffs have commitments from Dallas area linebacker Kamryn Farrar, Mater Dei (Calif.) High School receiver Braedin Huffman-Dixon and Orange (Calif.) Lutheran cornerback KJ Trujillo.
A guard at Highlands Ranch, Johnson believes he’ll play guard with the Buffs, but also said he can play tackle. Either way, he’s just looking forward to playing and joining what is a talented group of in-state offensive line recruits by CU in recent years.
In 2017, the Buffs’ class included Pomona tackle Jake Moretti and ThunderRidge tackle Heston Paige. In 2016, ThunderRidge tackle Hunter Vaughn signed with the Buffs, and in 2015, Regis guard Tim Lynott and Pomona tackle Dillon Middlemiss joined the program.
Johnson is hoping his good friend and teammate, Drake Nugent, will join him at CU. Nugent, a 6-foot-2 center, got an offer from Oklahoma State this week and also has offers from Arizona State, Colorado State and others. He doesn’t have an offer from the Buffs, however.
“I’m trying to push (CU) to offer him,” Johnson said.
The chemistry and friendship between the two was evident during their workout at SixZero on Thursday.
“We really wanted to play together,” Johnson said. “Hopefully CU comes around and offers him. We’ll see in the future.”
Johnson said he would “consider” going to another school if he can play with Nugent, but added, “I believe in loyalty, and I wouldn’t just commit (to CU) just to change.”
While he wants to play with Nugent, Johnson is excited about playing in Boulder, where his family can easily come to the games.
“It was pretty big,” he said of staying close to home. “It’s just easy for them to come out to games, especially my grandparents. They always want to come and cheer me on, so I felt like that would be the easiest place for them to come.”
Contact staff writer Brian Howell at email@example.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33