Chipman football star has bright future

FELTON – Typically, the college recruiting process for aspiring tackle football players doesn’t officially take off until around sophomore or junior year of high school.

But for one W.T. Chipman Middle School student, there’s already interest from universities regarding his potential college career.

Isaiah Johnson won’t be heading to Lake Forest High School as a freshman until this fall, but the current eighth grader has caught the attention of scouts and coaches down south.

Johnson spent his winter break scoring touchdowns and tackling ball-carriers, as the middle school star took a trip to Atlanta, Ga. for the 11th Annual Offense-Defense All-American Bowl.

Johnson has been playing tackle football for six years, and was noticed and recruited for the annual showcase game in Atlanta because of his high level of play at the Pop Warner and travel football level, according to his father Ronald Johnson.

Mr. Johnson received a call from a representative for the Offense-Defense Bowl and was asked if Isaiah would be interested in participating this year. They said yes, and it took off from there.

Isaiah, with his father Ronald, pose with the Defensive MVP trophy following the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl game (Special to The Journal/LaFayette Bell, Sr.).


“It was a fun experience,” Isaiah said of his Atlanta trip. “Getting to play with guys across the country. That’s not something that everybody gets a chance to do.”

Isaiah, a two-way star at both running back and linebacker, went on to gain over 100 yards and score a 45-yard touchdown on offense while recording 18 tackles and recovering a 47-yard fumble for a touchdown on defense in the Dec. 31 game.

He was awarded the O-D Defensive MVP Award.

“It was unbelievable,” Isaiah said of winning the game’s Defensive MVP Award.

Mr. Johnson stated that the Offense-Defense Bowl was a great experience for Isaiah, as he got a chance to see a higher level of play and show off his skills in front of scouts and coaches.

“He got great exposure because the program is run by former NFL players, coaches and scouts,” Mr. Johnson said. “There were scouts there the whole week of practice.”

A coach from the University of Tennessee happened to be one of Isaiah’s coaches during the few days of practice leading up to the game. Not only did he receive tips from the Tennessee coach, but the coach also expressed interest in further following Isaiah’s football career. A coach from Alabama took notice as well.

“We exchanged numbers, and he said he was going to look out for Isaiah,” Mr. Johnson said. “With that in mind, we got an opportunity to meet coaches and kids from around the country.

While he played great throughout the week and in the game itself, Isaiah did come away from the experience with some goals and things he’d like to work on to improve his game.

“We want to always work on the basics of football – the foot work, the hand-eye coordination, his hands, lateral movements. Those are the things we work on in the off-season,” Mr. Johnson said. “But I think he, out of all of it, wants to pick up a little weight (he’s at 172) and get a little faster.”

The showcase game this winter may just be the beginning for Isaiah. And the MVP award he captured could just be the first of many accolades of his career.

This summer he plans on attending a camp put on by the Offense-Defense Bowl program.

At the camp, he’ll be evaluated by top scouts and coaches, and then ranked nationally at the running back/linebacker position. This will give him the opportunity to see where he stands among his peers, and will be a great way for him to prepare for his freshman year of high school football.

But before the camp in July, Isaiah plans on continuing to train hard and be sure that he’s fully prepared for both the camp and his first high school football action.

“I plan on hitting the weight room. Lift a lot more and go to some camps,” he said of his off-season plans.

Training. Camp in July. High school football season.

It will be a busy spring and summer for the young student-athlete, but he’s excited to get started and make the move to the next level.

The young athlete has also competed in track and field and seen success in the sport, but it’s football that is on his mind. The ultimate goal is to go pro, and he’s already creating some buzz that could put him in position to play Division I football one day.

For more information regarding the Offense-Defense Bowl, you may visit their website at

Sports Editor Ben Heck can be reached at

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