Johnson Talks SU Pledge

Isaiah Johnson was a basketball player two years ago looking to go to a basketball school to play college ball. He has transitioned to football well, but he will end up at the school he has always envisioned himself going to anyway. The defensive end goes in-depth on his Syracuse commitment inside…

Eastern Christian Academy (Md.) has a slew of BCS-level prospects, and Isaiah Johnson added his name to that mix on Thursday when he committed to Syracuse.

"I committed around 11 (AM), and ever since then everybody has been congratulating me," he admitted. "Everyone's been happy for me."

The initial call was to Donnie Henderson, who was the coach on staff responsible for landing Johnson, a 6-foot-4, 270-pound defensive end prospect.

"He was really excited because he knew that it was my number one place and where I wanted to go," said the rising senior. "Coach (Doug) Marrone was really excited, he said he was glad I was going to be a part of the program and ‘welcome aboard, it's an honor to become an Orangemen.'"

The Orange has always appealed to Johnson, and it began with where his family hails from and the non-football aspect of the University.

"My family is from Buffalo, New York, which is only about 130 miles away from Syracuse," said Johnson. "I'm a family guy, so I wouldn't mind seeing my folks every weekend. They have a great graduation rate, physical therapy program and a lot of elite athletes came out of there.

"Donovan McNabb, of course. Carmelo Anthony and then you have stars like Vanessa Williams to come out of there."

In the end it came down to good values and wanting to be a part of an up-and-coming program like SU, one that will transition to the ACC sooner than later.

Said Johnson, "It was my number one choice because of academics and the graduation rate…I want to be a building block."

"I always wanted to go to Syracuse because of basketball. Carmelo Anthony is one of the more prolific scorers in the NBA, and I like the number 7, he wears that now in New York. I always liked his game coming out of Syracuse, I always did."

Another connection Johnson has to SU is with current running back Jerome Smith, who occasionally saw his future teammate when the two were growing up in Delaware.

"I just texted with him," said Johnson with a laugh. "We have reconnected since I moved from Delaware. It's always a competition between us since we used to talk about play basketball and stuff. I'm a new friend, I guess."

Perhaps fittingly, the defensive end with a high ceiling actually used his basketball experience to help him transition to football after his high school coach suggested the move though it wasn't easy.

"It helped me with the conditioning and the training," said Johnson. "It was difficult, but I pulled through. I have no problem with the physical part of the game. "

As for the rest of his recruitment, he maintained that he was solid to Syracuse. However, that may not stop him from camping at other schools. After all, that is how he earned his SU offer in the first place.

"I'm still going to go to camps, because hard work never stops," said Johnson. "As we say in Delaware, ‘no day's off.' That's what I'm going to do.

"It was the case Friday for the Syracuse camp."

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