UPDATE: A big day on the recruiting front turned into a huge night for the Kansas University football team, which learned late Tuesday night that highly coveted defensive tackle Marquel Combs, of Pierce Community College in Woodland Hills, Calif., had also committed to KU. Click here for more on Combs' commitment.
The Kansas University football team picked up its third oral commitment of the week from a junior college standout and, for the third straight time, the theme of his reason for committing to KU was the opportunity to help turn the program around.
Isaiah Johnson, a 6-foot-1, 207-pound safety from Iowa Western Community College, made his choice known Tuesday and plans to sign with the Jayhawks in February.
“I know from talking with Coach (Charlie) Weis that we’ve got a lot of juco guys coming in,” Johnson told the Journal-World on Tuesday. “And if we do all sign, with what everyone’s capable of doing, we can really change this program back into what it should be.”
Johnson comes to Kansas just weeks after winning a national championship with Iowa Western. He led the NJCAA in interceptions for most of the season, with eight, and believes that his style will serve the Jayhawks well during the next couple of seasons.
“I’m more of a ball-hawking safety,” he said. “I feel like anything in my air that comes my way, I can pick the ball off. But I can also come up and play the run pretty well, too.”
Johnson was one of more than two dozen players to make his official visit to KU last weekend and he said he enjoyed everything about the visit and “fell in love” with his new school.
Defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt was the lead recruiter for the North Carolina native who models his game after NFL safeties Charles Woodson and Ed Reed.
Back in high school, Johnson had narrowed down his college choices to UConn and Arizona, but failed to qualify and wound up FCS school Western Carolina, where he played some but injured his knee and red-shirted the season. From there he transferred to Iowa Western, played one season and will have three years of eligibility remaining at KU. He chose the Jayhawks over offers from Alcorn State, New Mexico, Northern Iowa, South Alabama and Wyoming. JayhawkSlant.com also reported that Arkansas, UCLA and Arizona State also were showing interest.
With his own decision out of the way, Johnson can turn his focus to helping KU fill out its recruiting class. Johnson already maintains friendships with KU commitments Marcus Jenkins-Moore and Cassius Sendish, and all three are putting serious pressure on defensive tackle Marquel Combs to join them.
Combs said last weekend that he had narrowed his list to KU and Kansas State
“I talk to him a lot,” Johnson said. “And I’m trying to influence him to come to KU, too. We’re trying to get him to come up and start a dynasty up here. I hope it’s meant to be.”
Johnson is the 16th member — and 10th juco player — in the Class of 2013 to commit to KU.
Here’s a quick look at who else is on board so far:
• Kellen Ash: 6-3, 194-pound linebacker from Parkway South High in Missouri. A three-star prospect, who committed to KU last April.
• Joey Bloomfield: 6-6, 305-pound offensive tackle from Ballard High in Louisville, Ky., who chose KU over offers from Air Force, Colorado, Houston, Kansas State, San Diego State and Wyoming.
• Andrew Bolton: 6-3, 280-pound defensive end from Hinds C.C. in Raymond, Miss. Clocked at 4.8 seconds in the 40-yard dash, Bolton also had offers from Iowa, LSU and Mississippi State.
• Montell Cozart: 6-2, 180-pound quarterback from Bishop Miege High in Kansas City. Played one season of high school ball under current KU offensive line coach Tim Grunhard.
• Jordan Darling: 6-4, 226-pound quarterback from Shawnee Mission East High in Kansas City. Dominated summer camps and picked the Jayhawks over Kansas State.
• Samson Faifili: 5-11, 240-pound linebacker from American River C.C. in Sacramento, Calif., committed to Kansas in mid-November, choosing KU over Hawaii, Iowa State, Nevada and Oregon State.
• Ngalu Fusimalohi: 6-3, 300-pound offensive guard from City College of San Francisco. Known as a mauler, Fusimalohi’s offer list closely resembled Faifili’s.
• Marcus Jenkins-Moore: 6-3, 210-pound linebacker from Pierce C.C. in Woodland Hills, Calif., who describes his game as “relentless” and chose KU over offers from a dozen other BCS-conference schools including K-State, Arkansas, Texas A&M; and Texas Tech.
• Ben Johnson: 6-5, 230-pound tight end from Basehor-Linwood High near Kansas City, was one of the first players in the class to commit.
• Tedarian Johnson: 6-3, 285-pound defensive tackle and juco teammate of Bolton. Chose Kansas over offers from Iowa State, Memphis, Mississippi State and Texas Tech.
• Dexter McDonald: 6-2, 203-pound cornerback and former KU player who recommitted to the Jayhawks this fall after spending the year at Butler County C.C.
• Trevor Pardula: 6-5, 210-pound punter and kickoff specialist who picked the Jayhawks over hometown San Jose State.
• Cassius Sendish: 6-2, 185-pound cornerback from Arizona Western C.C. A natural leader and hard hitter who chose KU over Big 12 schools Iowa State and K-State, among others.
• Colin Spencer: 5-10, 179-pound athlete from Woodrow Wilson High in Dallas. Played cornerback, wide receiver and quarterback in high school. May graduate early and enroll at KU in time for spring football.
• Mark Thomas: 6-2, 210-pound wide receiver from Nassau C.C. in New York. Solid, physical wideout chose KU over UConn and Marshall.