The day Central Arkansas Christian wide receiver Joshua Johnson received the call with an offer from Iowa State, he had an inkling he had found the perfect fit.
Some 4 ½ years ago on a Friday night in November 2011, when Johnson was in eighth grade, he got his first taste of Iowa State. He saw the score from that night’s game at Jack Trice Stadium scroll across the screen and watched the highlights. When the Big 12 offer came in during mid-February, he had a feeling.
“I had really been looking at them since they beat Oklahoma State a couple years back… When they upset Oklahoma State when they were No. 2,” Johnson said of his immediate interest in the Cyclones.
The 5-foot-11 Johnson committed to Indiana last November and also reports offers from the likes of Notre Dame, Kansas, Kansas State and Vanderbilt among several others. He quickly developed a relationship with Iowa State in February and reaffirmed his beliefs toward the program during a visit last week.
“I actually told [my parents] the day after they offered me [I wanted to commit]. They thought it was out of the world. They were excited,” Johnson said. “When they first offered me, that’s when I really wanted to commit because I always wanted to play in the Big 12.”
Johnson, who caught 87 passes for 1,245 yards and eight touchdowns last fall as a junior, is regarded as one of the top receivers in Arkansas in the 2017 class and could evolve into a multi-use receiver in Ames.
Despite being 5-foot-11, which on the surface would fit best in the slot, Johnson has a 6-foot-1 wingspan that will lend to some versatility. That was the message from Iowa State receivers coach Bryan Gasser when the two watched film last week.
“He was talking about moving me inside and outside,” Johnson said. “I’m really versatile, so he said he doesn’t just want to leave me at one spot, he wants to move me around and create mismatches and everything like that. He said my film looked good and everything. I’ve always got things to work on.”
Johnson will join a young group of receivers at Iowa State and has already been in frequent communication with 2017 quarterback commit Devon Moore.
After committing to Iowa State during his visit, Johnson officially announced his decision to decommit from Indiana on Monday and announced his commitment to Iowa State later in the day, a move that was several weeks in the making.
“I talked to Coach [Matt] Campbell and everything. He was just really excited. He was glad I was joining the family and everything,” Johnson said of his commitment. “I told him it was best for me and my family. Even my mom and dad told me that was a good place for me.”
So more than four years after Iowa State’s upset of No. 2 Oklahoma State, the biggest upset in school history is still paying dividends.
“Just talking with my parents and everything, they thought the Big 12 [offer] was big,” Johnson said of his decision. “The way they throw the ball and how they get the playmakers involved [is exciting].”