Syracuse defensive lineman Isaiah Johnson has been forced to hang up his football cleats due to multiple concussions after a promising start to his college football career, Syracuse Athletics announced on Tuesday. The news was communicated to him on April 9th, he said. It was the result of a third concussion he suffered during his career, which occurred during spring football in the previous months.
“I’ve kind of understood the circumstance because I’ve had two before and I heard if you had a third you’re medically disqualified, but that’s not what I wanted. I tried to get back as soon as I could. The head athletic trainer the team doctor pulled me in and told me that I was medically disqualified because of the concussions.
”Of course I was disappointed. They called my dad and explained everything to him. He’s always been my support, so hearing him hear the news was upsetting enough. I got in the car and broke down. I shed a lot of tears, I won’t lie. There’s a lot of emotion playing a sport that you’ve played every day since junior high school. There’s a lot of emotion behind it but I’m getting better.”
The Syracuse coaches have been a support system on campus as well. Head coach Scott Shafer and defensive line coach Tim Daoust have both spoken with Johnson to make sure he knows that they are available for guidance anytime he is need. Johnson has also been assured that his scholarship will remain intact during the rest of his undergraduate work.
”Coach Daoust and coach Shafer have been very supportive,” Johnson said. “They’ve been great. They said I can do everything else I used to do with the team, I just can’t play or practice. I’ll still be part of ‘Cuse Nation, just not a part of what you see on the field.”
Things get easier day by day for Johnson, who admits he is still saddened by the news of playing a game he has put some much of his life and time into. But he will look back on his time playing at Syracuse fondly. Not only because of the relationships he has developed within the program, but also due to the support of the fan base.
”Thank you (fans) for all of your support,” Johnson said. “Me and my family really appreciate you guys. I’m not going anywhere, I’ll still be at the games. I’m sorry this happened, but I appreciate the support you’ve given me for the 25 games I played in. I gave it my all and you guys made me a better person with your support.”
Johnson’s focus now shifts to school, where he plans to take the same work ethic he had in football and apply it to academics. He already has clear goals set for himself that he is working hard to achieve.
”My main focus is try to get on the Dean’s List as many times as I can,” Johnson said. “I want to study abroad in South Africa, so that’s something I’m looking into. Then I want to go to school for another two years for physical therapy. I just want to get better in life and in my school work. I just want to improve growing into being a grown man.”