Kevin Johnson was part of Syracuse’s strong recruiting pull in New Jersey back when he chose the Orange in the mid-90’s. Fast forward to 2015, and Syracuse is working hard towards reestablishing that same success.
Johnson came in as a quarterback, but transitioned to wide receiver after losing a training camp battle to Donovan McNabb. The move worked out well for Johnson, who became one of the all-time great receivers in Syracuse history.
During his career, Syracuse was routinely a nationally ranked team that competed for conference titles and went to major bowl games. New Jersey recruiting was a key to their success. Johnson believes the efforts Syracuse is making in the Garden State is imperative to their long term success.
”I think New Jersey has a ton of athletes that are coming out every year,” Johnson said. “For Syracuse to get back to competing in the bigger bowl games, getting back to being top-10 in the country, they have to get back in New Jersey and get some of those better athletes.
”I think those guys are really working hard to do the right things and make that a reality. I just want to be a part of those guys getting Syracuse back to the top.”
As recruiting picks up not only in New Jersey, but in the entire northeast, Syracuse can get back to becoming the big time program that it once was. Johnson thinks keeping their recruiting focus on the region is critical going forward. In fact, he believes he can be an example for future recruits.
”I think it’s very important,” Johnson said. “I think former players have to be able to help them out. They have to be able to come back on campus and talk to some of the younger guys. Get in the weight room and work out with some of the guys. Just be a great role model over those years.
”Let some of them know that Syracuse is not only a great academic school in the ACC, but we have a great athletic program as well. With the new facilities, I think Syracuse is right there with the rest of the ACC. I know being in New Jersey, I’m going to do my best to represent Syracuse in a positive fashion.”
One player that Johnson can have direct influence on is 2018 wide receiver Kevin Johnson Jr (pictured below). His son attends The Hun School in Princeton (N.J.) and is already very interested in Syracuse. He came to the coaches clinic over the weekend with his father. He is definitely a name to watch in the 2018 class.
”He came up here with me this weekend,” Johnson said. “He was really engaged listening to the players and watch some of the players and understanding some of the technique that I’ve taught him. He’s got SU in his blood. He’s real excited. He’ll get excited as time goes on with hard work. I’m really looking for him to open up some eyes the next couple years. It would great to have another Kevin Jr. to follow in the legacy that we started years ago.”