Originally published December 11, 2012 at 03:51p.m., updated December 12, 2012 at 12:45a.m.

Safety Isaiah Johnson becomes next juco player to commit to KU football


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. 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.


Ron Prichard 8 years, 9 months ago

Sweet!! Welcome to KU, Mr. Johnson. Keep that pressure on Combs! He would be another great addition.

Michael Maris 8 years, 9 months ago

LOLLOLLOLLOL.......... All I can say is this. Sheahon Zenger and Charlie Weis must have done a damn good job on B.G-L on allowing all of these Juco kid players to come to Kansas to play football. Congratulations to AD Zenger and Coach Weis on working on the Administration of Kansas to allow Juco kids to enroll at Kansas. Come on M. Combs. We are all waiting for you to announce your verbal commitment to Kansas Football.

ltownatrain 8 years, 9 months ago

Why do they need to do a good job to convince the administration to allow Juco kids. College and universities admit students from Juco all the time whether they are an athlete or not. If they meet the requirements to gain entrance then it shouldn't matter whether they are coming straight from high-school or transferring from a Juco. Obviously these kids are meeting the NCAA requirements to transfer in so who cares where they come from.

Andy Tweedy 8 years, 9 months ago

I emailed Chuck Woodling about this very topic a number of years ago, and he said KSU was able to admit a large number of JUCO players that wouldn't qualify at KU, so I think there is some truth to the idea that it's harder for JUCO players to enroll at Kansas. Not sure exactly why, can't remember, but I think it is true.

texashawk10 8 years, 9 months ago

Down here in Texas, someone who graduates with an associates degree from any community college in the state is guaranteed admission to any public school in the state including UT and TAMU who have pretty low acceptance rates out of high school.

TheRealTripleA 8 years, 9 months ago

Might as well be. Have one of the best Juco Conferences in our own state (btw also named the Jayhawk Conference)

Pitthawk34 8 years, 9 months ago

Yep...Ahperse is actually a teenager living in either a parents rental or basement. He is a joke. Nothing better than sitting by the computer all night just waiting to the first. Yes a freaking joke.

Kyle Sybesma 8 years, 9 months ago

I like that he has 3 years of eligibility.

"Led the NJCAA in interceptions for MOST of the season". Soooooo he didn't end the season as the leader..... right?

Boouk 8 years, 9 months ago

I think Cassius Sendish ended up with the most.

Jack Jones 8 years, 9 months ago

You get 2 guesses, and the first........!

Jonathan Allison 8 years, 9 months ago

This just in. Weis issues a statement saying "The Calvary is all but gone, but the Reinforcements are on the way"

Marcia Parsons 8 years, 9 months ago

Or maybe he didn't start out with a lot of receptions but built up to it.

Boouk 8 years, 9 months ago

Seems like a good get at a position of great need. With 11 spots still available, I think we focus on getting at least 1 more WR, DE, S, and LT all capable of starting immediately. Hopefully we get Combs too.

Boouk 8 years, 9 months ago

Can't Eric Kahn and Trevor Pardula handle the kicking duties?

Dirk Medema 8 years, 9 months ago

It's good that we have a transfer that is supposed to help next year and a JC as well, but after watching what happens when a team losses a kicker and/or has one get injured, I'd say there is plenty of reason to get some insurance.

Tad Shurtz 8 years, 9 months ago

Matt -- Do you know if any of these JUCOs plan to transfer at semester? I assume none of them will since you didn't mention it, but, still, just hoping ...

Matt Tait 8 years, 9 months ago

Actually, I think quite a few of them are. I'd say 4-6... We'll know for sure next Wednesday, as that's the first day of the midyear transfer signing period.

Jack Joiner 8 years, 9 months ago

Something is wrong here. No players who were commited to Tulsa! LOL!

Phil Leister 8 years, 9 months ago

Only one wide receiver committed. We desperately need one or two more.

Micky Baker 8 years, 9 months ago

We do have McKay, and I think we have two WR's who have committed, and Thomas runs a 4.4 40. Josh Ford probably didn't get much playing time in order to get into shape. If he can pick up a couple of tenths, he'll also be a burner. There are still 9 more spots to fill, so I'm sure there is at least one more WR coming.

Dirk Medema 8 years, 9 months ago

11 more (27 - 16) spots, and only 1 WR so far.

O = 6

Montell Cozart, QB, Bishop Miege HS (Kansas City, Mo.);

Jordan Darling, QB, SM East HS (Prairie Village, Kan.);

RB (1 for the future?)

Mark Thomas, WR, Nassau CC (Garden City, N.Y.);

WR (2 more please)

Ben Johnson, TE, Basehor-Linwood HS (Basehor, Kan.);

Joey Bloomfield, OL, Ballard HS (Louisville, Ky.);

Ngalu Fusimalohi, OL, City College of San Francisco;

OL (2 more would be nice)

D = 10

Andrew Bolton, DE, Hinds Community College (Miss.);

Tedarian Johnson, DL, Hinds CC;

DT (? Combs, please?)

DE (1 more)

Sampson Failfili, LB, American River (Sacramento, Calif.);

Marcus Jenkins-Moore, LB, Pierce Community College (Woodland Hills, Calif.);

Kellen Ash, LB, Parkway South HS (Ballwin, Mo.);

Cassius Sendish, CB, Arizona Western CC, (Yuma, Ariz.);

Colin Spencer, DB, Woodrow Wilson HS (Dallas, Texas);

Dexter McDonald, DB, Butler County Community College (El Dorado, Kan.);

Isaiah Johnson, S, Iowa Western CC

Trevor Pardula, K/P, DeAnza College (Calif.);

With a few more additions, that's a nice complete class.

Dirk Medema 8 years, 9 months ago

Check for Combs! And realizing I forgot Ty McKinney as well. That could be a HUGE improvement on D.

Micky Baker 8 years, 9 months ago

The defensive backfield is filling in with good size and speed. 4.51/40 speed. The top DB coming out of high school in 2013 has a 4.5 40. This is good speed.

Micky Baker 8 years, 9 months ago

The way this is shaping up, this will be at least one of the faster defenses that KU has ever had, and could seriously disrupt some of the major offensive teams in the league.

Micky Baker 8 years, 9 months ago

Already a place kicker on the roster who had to sit out due to transfer rules, and in that list above is a punter/kick off specialist.

Seth Nesmith 8 years, 9 months ago

Campo knows what he must do with the talent that is available to him to at least slow down and disrupt Big 12 offenses. If Heaps and McCay can at least be in the 50th percentile in their positions, with our running game, we can go to a bowl game next season.

Boouk 8 years, 9 months ago

Agreed. If we would've had Heaps last season at QB playing at the level he did his freshman year at BYU, we would've beat Rice, NIU, OSU, Texas, TTU, and maybe even TCU. The kicking game should be much improved with Eric Kahn and Pardula, and we have several very winnable Big 12 home games next season in TTU, WVU, and KSU.

Gary Wirsig 8 years, 9 months ago

I'll believe it when it's demonstrated on the field. That said...Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

hawkdds 8 years, 9 months ago

The other Big 12 teams will simply reload and be as tough as this year. Four wins would vindicate Weis' hire but don't get over exuberant, it's going to be a tough slog.

Dirk Medema 8 years, 9 months ago

We were a TD away from 6 W's and a bowl bid this year. Heck, in some of the games, we were 1 completion away.

HaasesWeak 8 years, 9 months ago

Didn't read all the comments, so sorry if someone already mentioned it, but Combs just announced on Twitter he's going to KU.

parrothead8 8 years, 9 months ago

Yes! Good news!

None by Marquel Combs

Dirk Medema 8 years, 9 months ago

and sounds like Kevin Short will be announcing 4 KU soon as well.

Dirk Medema 8 years, 9 months ago

Maybe he can recruit teammates Jaelen Strong (WR) and Hard Wilder (CB) as well.

Bville Hawk 8 years, 9 months ago

Back when Snyder started having consistent success at KSU the then head coach at Colorado (Bill McCartney maybe?) complained in the press that KSU had lower standards and could take juco players that no one else in the conference could accept at the time.

Matt, this might be an idea for a column. Are all schools in the conference on the same level playing field in this regard now?

Commenting has been disabled for this item.