When Prior Lake (Minn.) defensive tackle Jamahl Johnson headed to Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads’ office on a late June night following a recruiting camp in Ames, he heard a message that other coaches had preached to him.
In the end, Iowa State kept its word with the athletic 6-foot, 300-pound tackle and was rewarded with a commitment Monday night.
“They’re the school for me. I just really love how they were so honest in the recruiting process,” Johnson said after he committed. “I went down to the camp, I balled out and [Rhoads] told me, ‘If you perform well in your first couple games and everything falls in place we’re going to offer you, it’s a matter of time.’ I heard the same story from [other schools] and nothing happened, but Iowa State was true to their word and they offered me after the first couple games. I was excited about that and thought it was a great fit.”
Johnson drew interest from Iowa, Iowa State, Minnesota and North Dakota State in the summer along with an offer from South Dakota. After two strong weeks to open the season, he took an unofficial visit to Iowa State on Sept. 12 for the CyHawk game.
Before the game, Johnson was summoned to Rhoads’ office where the seventh-year Iowa State coach extended the offer he had talked about months earlier.
“After Iowa State offered I felt amazing,” Johnson said. “[Coach Rhoads] came in for a handshake and I gave him a big ol’ hug. I took the handshake down and gave him a big hug. I was extremely grateful of the offer.”
Nine days later, that offer has turned into a commitment.
Johnson is compared to Iowa State starting defensive tackle Demond Tucker in both height and weight, and also shares similar explosiveness at the tackle position. He was timed with an impressive 4.90 in the 40-yard dash at Iowa State’s camp in June and coaches had him key in on Tucker during his visit.
“I would describe my game as quick. I surprise offensive linemen and then back that up with some down-the-line speed and some strength,” Johnson said. “I just feel like I’ll be a great fit in their defense. Demond Tucker, I think he’s shorter than me to be honest and I’m not that damn tall. He’s powerful as hell. I just feel like I fit perfectly at Iowa State in their defense as a three-tech tackle right there in the middle.”
Johnson put an emphasis on speed work during the summer, and at 300 pounds he has not only cut his 40-yard dash under 5.00, but has combined it with a 4.80 pro agility.
After initially wanting to take some time to see what might happen with his senior season, Johnson instead decided end his recruitment.
“I just felt like it was a great fit and I didn’t want to put them in a bad position or anything like that so I went ahead and committed,” said Johnson, who hopes to get to at least two more games. “It was just a perfect fit and the coaches there are awesome. I’ll be able to play there in a short amount of time after I redshirt, if I do redshirt.”