Johnson, in the white hat, signed with the Indy Pirates Saturday night to play football.
Johnson, in the white hat, signed with the Indy Pirates Saturday night to play football.

Big recruit after big recruit has signed with the ICC football team this year. The biggest of course being Malik Henry formerly of Florida State, but other big names have made their way on campus as well with transfers from Rice, Monmonth and Toledo all now on ICC’s roster.


That roster just added another big recruit Saturday night as the Pirates signed three-star defensive lineman/linebacker Jermaine Johnson out of Eden Prairie, Minnesota.

Johnson stands at 6-foot-5, 215 pounds and had interest from multiple Division I schools including Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin.


He would have had even more schools looking at him and offers coming in had he qualified academically out of high school, but that paved the way for him coming to Independence where they have already made a habit out of getting players in whose academics may not be the best and getting their grades in check and getting them graduated and on to the next level.


And it was ICC’s insistence on getting his grades right and getting him better prepared for the next level that got him on Indy’s campus.


ICC recruited Johnson on what they were offering, not the negatives of other schools.


“Independence was the first to offer me, and I always kept them in my mind,” Johnson said in an interview Sunday morning. “And then I just got to know the people and this was one of the places that wasn’t negative recruiting when they came to me and that’s what I respected about it.


"I just got to know Coach (Jason) Brown a lot and then I got to know the whole coaching staff and it just sort of felt like a home, it felt like a place where I could belong and succeed.”


Depending on where you look Johnson is either listed as a two or three star recruit. But with non-qualifiers oftentimes recruiting services will stop giving them time because they know they won’t be going to a major school that’s going to be on television every day.


Johnson was one of those guys that may have been overlooked somewhat, but the Pirates were on him for a long time.


During his junior season ICC coach and Recruiting Coordinator Jesse Ornelas started looking at tape on the 6-foot-5 defensive end and saw plenty to like about him.


He’s athletic enough to stand up and rush the edge or back off and defend the pass. He was a tight end and wide receiver as well in Eden Prairie and has more than enough athletic ability to play at the Division I level, he’ll just happen to be playing at the JuCo level next year.


“He’s a difference maker as a speed rush guy,” Brown said. “And he can also drop into coverage and play some linebacker and run with anybody in the slot, he’s a very diverse athlete, he’s dynamic, I expect we’ll see him on Sundays.”


Johnson missed much of the 2015 season due to injury, but he was invited to the U.S. Army Combine and impressed there as an incoming senior.


He was part of an Eden Prairie team that shut out seven opponents on their way to a deep playoff run in Minnesota. He was called by many prep sites in Minnesota as one of best, if not the best, pass rushers in the state. It’s hard to deny what is seen on tape.


And now the Pirates add him to an already impressive recruiting class that includes Isaiah Edwards who transferred from Rice, as mentioned before Henry from Florida State, Keith Williams from Monmouth as well as several others that committed right out of high school.


ICC is making waves and it’s hard for anyone to ignore it at this point.


“I’m just ecstatic that we got him and we’ll continue to land some big-time names and see if we can’t get this thing to where we’re a household name for any non-qualifying kid in the country,” Brown said.


See more on this story including what he’ll bring to the table according to coaches Jason Martin, Keith Donerson and Manoa Latu in Tuesday’s Independence Daily Reporter.