It has been an amazing year for Tyler Johnstone, who showed up rather anonymously at the Los Angeles NIKE Camp and now finds himself invited to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
The Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton left offensive tackle said it's been an incredible year and that this honor - being presented with his Army game jersey on Thursday - is a perfect cap to what has been an exciting time which has included a commitment to Oregon.
"I never really expected too much," Johnstone said. "When I got my Colorado offer I thought it was so sick, a Division I offer. I was so glad I got one. Then the L.A. (NIKE) camp happened and my name got out there and I started performing really well at other camps. When the other offers started snowballing I didn't know what to think. It was ridiculous.
"I hoped it wasn't based on one college thinking I was good. It was like, 'How much have these guys really seen me play?' I thought I had a lot to improve on during my junior year and I really didn't think I was playing up to my level when people started offering. This year started and more stuff started happening, I got ranked higher on Rivals, and that has been really cool. It's been an amazing honor."
Johnstone, a 6-foot-6, 260-pound prospect, has shot up the rankings as well. Rivals.com now rates him No. 16 at offensive tackle, No. 133 nationally and ninth in the Arizona state rankings. He was previously unranked on the national level.
USC, Boise State, TCU, Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA, Washington and a bunch of other programs offered Johnstone after his summer performances but he committed to Oregon in late July and has not wavered. Nor does he plan to. Johnstone loves what the Ducks' offense is all about and the direction of the program and he plans to stick with his pledge.
College is still months away. For now, Johnstone is focused on the playoffs with Chandler Hamilton - still undefeated and largely untested heading into Friday's matchup - and then going to San Antonio for the Army game.
"I really didn't have any idea that I was going to be invited to it," Johnstone said. "It was pretty exciting. It's a huge honor. There's really not much you can say because it's such a huge honor and you're being recognized on a national level where normally it's just your coach telling you you're doing well.
"It's really cool to know people from across the country are recognizing who you are as a player at the high school level. That's really cool for me."
One of the things Johnstone is most looking forward to during the Army week is competing against some of the nation's top defensive linemen. His toughest match this season was against four-star defensive end Jalen Grimble at Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman and so he wants to continue to test himself.
He proved to be one of the best offensive tackles in the camp setting and in multiple games this season. Now Johnstone wants a week's worth of competition against the best and he's going to get it at the Army game.
"That's going to be awesome," he said. "The only time I've really gone against guys that were recognized as really good defensive linemen was when we played against Bishop Gorman with Grimble and at camps.
"The week is going to be like none other. It's just going to be amazing d-linemen. That's going to be a lot of fun because I'm going to be playing against a lot of those guys in college. It's going to be a fun experience."