Johnson recaps SU-USC, talks verbal status

Isaiah Johnson

Syracuse was on the national stage on Saturday as it put up a solid effort against USC before falling to the No. 2 team in America. Several Orange commits and prospects were on hand for the game in New Jersey's MetLife Stadium, but none had quite the experience that defensive end commit Isaiah Johnson had considering he plays with a trio of Trojan commits who also made the trip with him.

Perspective is everything when it comes to several things in life, and football recruiting is one of them. For Syracuse commit Isaiah Johnson, it helps him remain a firm pledge to the Orange after taking in the program's seventh-straight loss on Saturday to USC.

"I think they played very well against the No. 2 team in the nation," he said. "They struggled, USC struggled, and there was just a 5-point difference in the third quarter. None of their fans were talking."

Some of the fans that Johnson was sitting with in MetLife Stadium just happened to be his teammates. And three of his Elkton (Md.) Eastern Christian Academy teammates are verbally committed to the Trojans.

"I came with a lot of UCS fans, a lot of USC recruits like (commits and teammates) David Sills, Kenny Bigelow, Khaliel Rodgers - and I'm going to hear that all week," he said. "It's all competition with my teammates – I still love them to death."

Though the outcome of the game (42-29, USC) wasn't to his liking, the defensive end pledge was pleased with the effort. Still, there were opportunities for Syracuse throughout the stormy New Jersey day.

"They played very hard, in those types of games you have got to be a play-maker," said Johnson. "You can't drop balls, you can't misread for the quarterbacks, you have to tackle well…but they never gave up and that's the kind of team I want to be a part of."

The position group he will be a part of, the defensive line, also held its own especially at the beginning of the game.

"They played real hard, Deon [Goggins] played phenomenal," said the verbal commit. "They put a lot of pressure on Matt Barkley, and that's what I like to see. I don't know what it was, but coach [Tim] Daoust was doing a good job.

"They had some miscues of course, but that's just the game of football. Nobody's perfect."

As far as Johnson's recruitment, after he flirted with some other programs initially after committing to SU, he admits that his stance has changed.

"I'm still committed, I'm not going nowhere," said Johnson. "I'm thinking of taking my official (to Central New York) sometime in December, after football season. Maybe even January, to watch a Syracuse basketball game."

Programs like Connecticut and Temple, who have also offered him – slowed down their pursuit as news of his pledge to the Orange got out.

"That really slowed down, no school really tried to talk to me," he admitted. "I just talk to the Syracuse players like Jerome [Smith], we stay connected to matter what. The recruiting process really just stopped after I committed, and that's fine. I don't need nobody else, because (Syracuse) is where I want to go."

Before the class of 2013 standout can set foot on the hill for the first time as a student, he has to get through his final semesters as a member of the ECA football team. The program has been under much scrutiny of late because of the school's situation without a campus or conventional academic system, but that hasn't slowed Johnson's desire to take care of priorities first.

"It's always school first…so that's what my mind is on no matter what," he said. "That's what my mind is on before a school cancels on us. I have a 3.2 GPA."

While school is going well, football has been tougher to deal with. In addition to subpar practice facilities and scheduling issues, other high schools are backing off of commitments to play the Honey Badgers.

"I just have to work harder every day, take no practices or games off," Johnson said. "I make mistakes, but I have to learn from my mistakes. I can't be discouraged; I keep my head high even though people keep cancelling on us. I know that ‘Cuse will come…

"Go ‘Cuse, baby! Orange and blue!" he added.

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