Isaiah Johnson Inks His Name

Not only a signee for Syracuse now, Johnson has also been a longtime promoter of the program through all of its changes. He shares his special day with inside.

Defensive end Isaiah Johnson out of Tri-State Christian Academy in Maryland has made it official, signing onto the Syracuse Orange football team of the future.

"Oh, it feels great," said Johnson. "To get all the recruiting process out of the way just feels like it's a weight lifted off my shoulders. It was a long process. Even though I committed early, it was still a long process, dealing with other colleges and talking to other coaches, but I'm glad I found a home that fits me perfectly."

How does Syracuse fit Johnson perfectly? "It's not like a regular college," Johnson stated. "It's within the city. And the education is just great. That's what I really love. And it just feels like I can really start and finish my four years of my legacy there."

"Man, my excitement level is through the roof right now," Johnson added. "I can't wait to get there…I can't wait to step in the classroom. I compete everywhere, so competing in the classroom is one of the main things I wanted to do."

Along with having the "athlete" portion of student-athlete completed in signing his National Letter of Intent, Johnson also has direction on the student side. "When I come I'll be studying exercise therapy," he said.

"It's just about staying with sports, like figuring out different things about the body," Johnson continued. "I'm just real interested. I didn't wanna step out of my circle about what I know, so I wanted to do something just like, it's like physical therapy but it isn't. So, I'll still be working with sports and everything. I'll just know how the body works, how the body moves."

Johnson is not waiting in any means as far as preparation. "Honestly, I'm doing two-a-day workouts, morning and afternoon," Johnson shared. "I'm conditioning. I'm running. I'm trying to be in the best shape that I can. There's just a lot of little things, like I'm eating right. I don't eat fast food. I don't drink soda. I drink a lot of water. And, I'm praying. That's another big thing."

Going off of his statement about prayer, Johnson talked about the importance of God and spirituality in his life. "It's very big, actually," Johnson remarked. "He's number one in every book that I have. When I need something I can on Him and that's basically every day. I don't call on Him just when I need something. I call on Him to worship Him in everything I do. So I'm glad that I actually have that relationship with Him."

As far as his relationship with God helping his decision, Johnson said, "Oh yes, most definitely. He's the person that I talk to day and night with all my problems and even with all the ups and all my downs, He's the man I talk to."

Outside of God, Johnson looks to other leaders in his life. "Me and coach [Tim] Daoust is just like, father and son," Johnson expressed. "When I can, I call him and when he can, he calls me. There's a lot that go on that me and coach Daoust talk about…We don't have any secrets between me and him. If something's not feeling right, I tell ‘em. Something not feeling right on his end, he tells me. That's like a second dad to me." "And, it's really great that him and my dad have such a great relationship, too," Johnson added. "Because my dad…that's Superman to me. So, God is number one. My dad is second. So I really do listen to them two guys. Or them three, featuring coach Daoust."

Concerning getting on the field right away, Johnson stated, "I don't wanna say confident just yet, but I'm just gonna say that I'm gonna put in the work that he tells me that I gotta do. I'm gonna take everything that he tells me and I'm gonna do it 150%. If that gets me on the field, that's good. If it doesn't, I'll work even harder."

Along with figuring out that Syracuse was the right fit for him, Johnson also took on a role as another recruiter for the team. "It did mean a lot to me," Johnson expressed. "I think I did my best that I could do. I can't really persuade anybody to do what they wanna do because in the end they have the last word. All I can do is give him the wisdom and give him the power and the respect that they need to make the decision." "My job was, for the 2013 class, to be the leader because obviously a couple people de-committed," Johnson continued. "Some people didn't like Syracuse or whatever it was, but I was the strongest one. So, [the fans, coach Daoust, and some reporters] gave me the job of being the captain 2013. I just did what I had to do. I tried to get and have [the] 2013 class stay together, and I did the best that I could do. I couldn't reach out to everybody, but I reached out to as many people as I could."

Concerning what fellow recruits he spoke with in the process, Johnson said, "Austin Wilson. That's one of the main ones. I think Corey Cooper, the wide receiver. That's one of the main ones. I've talked to Tyler Provo a little bit. When he was committed to us, I talked to Augustus [Edwards]. When he was committed, I talked to Zach Allen. But, I don't really talk to them two anymore. And then, Malik Brown, I kinda talk to him sometimes."

Why did he stick with Syracuse, unlike some, despite all of the coaching changes? "I stayed Syracuse because I prayed number one, and my dad just kept saying, ‘It'll be alright. Just stay positive,'" John stated. "So when he says stay positive I know everything's gonna be fine. And plus, yeah [Doug] Marrone left and coach [Donnie] Henderson, but I think that when coach Daoust called me, he said, ‘Everything is gonna be ok.' That's why they really sold me. I didn't want nothing else. I didn't wanna go to no college, do all the tours. And I just didn't feel like dealing with all the media and everybody saying, ‘Oh, he went to another college so that means he [is] interested.' No, I didn't want that. So, that just wasn't me so I didn't go no where so I just stayed 100% with Syracuse."

One of the coaching changes was the elevation of Scott Shafer from defensive coordinator to head coach, of which Johnson responded to with positivity. "I'm really excited because…I talked to coach [Scott] Shafer like three times and his philosophy and defense, even though he stepped to the head coaching position, it never changed, and that's what I like," Johnson shared. "He's genuine. He's sincere about the things that he wanna do. If he want it, he gonna get it done. That's how he wants. He want it 100%, I'm [going to] give him 175. That's because he knows that's what I can do. He believes in me just as much as I believe in him, maybe even more."

With Shafer moving up to head coach, he filled the defensive coordinator vacancy by bringing in Chuck Bullough. "I've talked to him as well," said Johnson. "I love him because he's just like coach Shafer. They're basically the spitting image of each other sometimes. Him, coach Shafer, and Daoust have the same mentality and I love that. If coaches can click like that and keep clicking and make sure that we're in the ACC next year as one of the top seeds, I think coming in, Syracuse has one of the top ACC coaching staffs."

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