Every high school football player has that one hobby that takes their mind off of the game and gives them peace of mind. For Hayward (Calif.) Moreau Catholic running back Jullen Ison, the Northern Colorado commit’s top leisure activity makes it look as if he could’ve played in the high school marching band.
The 5-foot-8, 185-pound 2017 running back - best known in the Bay Area prep scene for eclipsing past the 3,000-yard mark last season - enjoys picking up the saxophone when he’s not in pads.
“I've played the saxophone since I was in the fifth grade. My pops (former Hawaii commit Clinton Ison) also plays the sax,” Ison told Scout. “It's definitely a secret hobby I have.”
Ison will sometimes go outside of his Oakland apartment complex and strike up a tune with the popular musical instrument. On the football field, he leaves defenses in a whirlwind of confusion and heavy breathing, as the sax player breezes past defenses with his speed and power for the Mariners.
Ison has already marched his way to 1,571 yards and 13 touchdowns in seven games this season. With his average of 224.4 yards per game, he’s on pace to reach 2,244 yards by the end of the regular season. The four-year varsity letterman is also nearing 6,000 career rushing yards and has 74 touchdowns in a prep uniform. Not bad for an explosive back who lacks ideal size for a ball carrier and who never landed a scholarship offer from a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) program.
“There was a little frustration from certain programs that I believed I was close with who had me high on their radar, but suddenly they didn’t follow through,” Ison said.
Two of those programs were Mountain West teams that Ison and his father were high on: Hawaii and Fresno State. Ison even wore Fresno State gear – including socks with the Bulldog logo – at different camps and tournaments during the spring season.
Yet, Ison hasn’t shown any hard feelings about going un-offered by FBS programs, especially after deciding to accept the Bears’ offer in September.
“Coach (James) Jones (defensive coordinator) recruited me the hardest from NC,” Ison said. “I loved the fact that it gave me an opportunity to stay in an offense similar to something I've seen throughout high school and also the way they said they will try to use me on the field: Pounding the rock and getting me out in space with catching the ball out of the backfield.”
He credits his father for being his top mentor, from playing the running back position to learning the sax.
“My pops told me my heart had to be bigger than all my competition. He’s also told me that I need to believe in heart over height…and I bought in,” Ison said. “To finally be able to say I will be playing college ball feels like a dream come true because all of my hard work on and off the field is starting to become apparent. Northern Colorado is a pretty solid commitment, but nothing is ever final until the papers are signed.”