DARLINGTON — Growing up, Hunter Johnson always rooted for the Badgers. Soon, the Darlington senior-to-be will become a Badger.
Johnson, a 6’1”, 205-lbs. running back/linebacker with the Redbirds, has committed to the University of Wisconsin–Madison as a preferred walk-on, saying that he’s “humbled and blessed to announce that I have committed to the University of Wisconsin” via Twitter.
“It’s a great decision for me. Not just sports-wise. It’s one of the top business schools in the nation along with one of the top football schools,” said Johnson during a recent interview. “Growing up in Wisconsin, I have always been a Badger fan. Everyone around here loves the Badgers. I felt they were the right fit for me.”
Johnson has been highly productive in the backfield for the Redbirds the past two seasons, amassing 3,984 all-purpose yards and 64 total touchdowns.
He rolled up 1,361 yards and scored 20 TDs his sophomore season, and then shattered school records his junior campaign with 2,623 all-purpose yards and 44 TDs. He set single-season records for rushing yards (2,365), scoring (270 points) and touchdowns (44) as a junior, and also surpassed the school’s career scoring mark (400) in last year’s state championship game.
Johnson rushed 121 times for 1,060 yards (8.8 ypc.) and 14 TDs and caught 10 passes for 301 yards (30.1 ypc.) and six TDs as a sophomore, and he ran 207 times for 2,365 yards (11.4 ypc.) and 41 TDs and caught nine passes for 258 yards (28.7 ypc.) and two TDs as a junior. He also returned a kickoff for a TD last season.
The Redbirds have posted a 25–3 record in Johnson’s two varsity seasons with two Southwest Wisconsin Activities League (SWAL) titles and back-to-back WIAA Division 6 state runner-up finishes.
Johnson was named the 2015 SWAL Offensive MVP and earned a first-team All-SWAL spot on offense and a second-team All-SWAL spot on defense, and he also was selected the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association All-State offensive first-team as well as the WFCA All-Southwest Region team and the Southwestern Wisconsin Shrine Club/Queen B Radio All-Area offensive and defensive teams.
Although he received a lot of recruiting interest from several FBS Division 1 schools along with many FCS Division 1-AA schools, he knew that if an offer came from Wisconsin he would jump at the chance to become a Badger.
“In the back of my mind, I wasn’t really thinking about those [other offers]. I knew that when and if I got something from Wisconsin that’s where I wanted to be. My mind was made up,” he added.
With the decision behind him, he can now focus on his senior year of high school and final season on the gridiron where he hopes to lead the Redbirds to another conference title, a fourth straight trip to Camp Randall — his future home — for the D6 state finals, and — hopefully — the school’s fifth all-time state title. He should also shatter the school’s all-time rushing record along the way.
“It’s nice to make my commitment and set [the recruiting)] things aside, so I can focus on this season and winning a state championship,” stated Johnson.
Johnson is the son of Joel and Sheila Johnson.