All of Iowa’s recent verbal commitments of late came with an interesting story on why they picked the program. Keagan Johnson raised the bar on angles, however.
The Bellevue (NE) West High receiver pledged to the Hawkeyes on Wednesday, choosing them ahead of rival Nebraska. Iowa not only beat the Huskers in their home state, it took a legacy recruit away from them.
Johnson’s dad, Clester Johnson, played wingback for Nebraska from 1991-95, helping The Big Red win two national championships. Keagan heard assumptions throughout the process that he would follow in his father’s footsteps to Lincoln.
He told HN back in March that concluding that would be premature.
“Ultimately, when picking a school, this will be the best decision for me and me only. I will pick the program I see myself best thriving in, and one I feel will help me reach my potential,” he said at the time.
“I won’t be pressured to go anywhere. I am taking my time and really looking in-depth at all my schools.”
Johnson told HN after his commitment on Wednesday that he’s ready to walk his own path.
“It was tough, but I followed my heart. My dad let me have an open mind through the whole thing, and it’s time to start my own legacy,” he said.
Keagan Johnson (6-1, 188) is the seventh prospect landed by Iowa since April 14. He became the third receiver in that group, joining Ankeny’s Brody Brecht and Arland Bruce IV from the Kansas City area, who committed last week.
The Hawkeyes moved up to 15 known verbal commitments in the ’21 recruiting class. That tied for second with Minnesota among Big Ten teams behind Ohio State’s 18 as of early Wednesday afternoon.
Johnson caught 52 passes for 672 yards and eight scores in ’19. His team finished 13-0 in its march to a state championship.
If you’re looking for a comparison on the current Hawkeye roster, Johnson provides one.
“I think in the Iowa offense, I could be similar to Ihmir (Smith-Marsette). They find different ways to get him the ball, and that’s kind of what I do in high school now,” he said in March.
Assistant LeVar Woods led the Hawkeyes’ recruitment of Johnson. The two guys built a strong bond over time.
“I’ve known coach Woods since freshman year. We talk pretty regularly. He’s a super genuine guy, and he’s real easy to connect with,” Johnson said in March.
Receivers coach Kelton Copeland closed the deal.
“Coach Copeland was the deciding factor for me. He has changed the receiving core around completely, and I’m excited about the future of the offense,” Johnson told HN on Wednesday.
Johnson has a good relationship with four-star Council Bluffs Lewis Central tight end Thomas Fidone, who also is considering Iowa and Nebraska. They could end up together with the Hawkeyes.
“Me and Thomas talk a lot. That would be a big addition. He will make that decision when he feels he’s ready. It’s a big decision,” Johnson told HN on Wednesday.
Johnson has visited Iowa’s campus three times, the last stop coming during a Jan. 26 junior day. He was scheduled to be back on April 2, but that trip was canceled due to concerns from the coronavirus.
He scheduled official visits to Nebraska (June 12-14) and Iowa (June 19-21) and was talking with Kansas State about a date to officially visit Manhattan after naming that trio as his finalists. He ended up not needing to see any more.
Rivals and 247 rank Johnson as a three-star prospect. The former seems him as the No. 34 receiver nationally in the cycle and No. 3 player in Nebraska regardless of position. The 247 network sees him as the No. 32 athlete in ’21 and the second best player in his state.
Here’s a look at Johnson’s junior highlights:
2021 Iowa Verbal Commitments
Keagan Johnson, WR, Bellevue, NE
Brody Brecht, WR, Ankeny, IA
Arland Bruce IV, WR, Olathe, KS
David Davidkov, OL, Winnetka, IL
Beau Stephens, OL, Blue Springs, MO
Max Llewellyn, DE, Urbandale, IA
Jordan Oladokun, DB, Tampa, FL
Cooper DeJean, S, Ida Grove, IA
Jeff Bowie, DE, West Branch, IA
Zach Twedt, S, Story City, IA
Justice Sullivan, LB, Eden Prairie, MN
Griffin Liddle, DT, Bettendorf, IA
Jaden Harrell, LB, Urbandale, IA
Connor Colby, OL, Cedar Rapids, IA
Gennings Dunker, OL, Lena, IL