When asked about Jordan Johnson’s athletic ability, Brooks School head coach Alex Konovalchik summed it up in three words: “He was spectacular!”
The 5′11″, 180-pound member of the 2010 BYU football signing class says he is excited to get to Provo and get busy. “I can’t wait!” exclaimed Johnson, who is scheduled to arrive on campus in early August.
Jordan’s first love was actually the game of basketball.
As a freshman at Brooks, located in North Andover, Massachusetts, he was ranked as one of the top 40 freshman basketball players in the Northeast. His original plan was to eventually play Division I basketball at Dartmouth. But as Jordan excelled on the football field, his commitment to basketball diminished, eventually dropping it to concentrate on football his junior and senior years.
Nevertheless, it was actually a BYU basketball connection that led Johnson down an unlikely road to Provo.
Jordan’s uncle Leo Papile works in the front office of the Boston Celtics. Jordan would oftentimes shoot hoops at the Celtics training facility—where he got to know team president and former BYU basketball star Danny Ainge.
“I would always talk to Danny and his son (Austin)," explains Johnson. “He told me I should look into BYU. I pretty much didn’t know anything about the school, but I went out there for camp and had a lot of fun. I really enjoyed myself, and I really liked the people.”
BYU’s unique atmosphere was also intriguing to Jordan, who chose the Cougars over an offer from the University of Connecticut.
Johnson says his Baptist upbringing and his structured life at Brooks—a private boarding school—have been great preparation to live by the BYU honor code. “I won’t be getting into trouble,” says Jordan. “It’s pretty simple. I chose the school that I chose because I’m that kind of person. Similar to BYU, we have rules (at Brooks) we have to abide by.”
With an enrollment of 375 students, Brooks School is a member of the Independent School League in Massachusetts, and according to Konovalchik the league produces several Division I football players each year.
Brooks is part of a strong tradition of private boarding schools in the Northeast and includes Steve Forbes among its notable alumni. It is academically rigorous and demands a high level of character from its students. “Jordan’s time at Brooks will assist him in making the transition to BYU,” says Konovalchik. “The very essence of our school is character education.”
Students at Brooks participate in coat and tie dinners each Tuesday and Thursday evenings, they are expected to be at study hall from 8 to 10 pm each weeknight, and they attend school on Saturdays.
All 90 of the school’s seniors have already been accepted into colleges around the country. The list includes a who’s who of institutions such as Stanford, Cornell, Dartmouth, Carnegie Mellon, Northwestern, Johns Hopkins, NYU, Wake Forest, and the U.S. Naval Academy, to name just a few.
Balancing the high academic demands with athletics, Johnson starred at quarterback in the spread offense his final two years. In his senior season he led Brooks to a 7-1 record—its best in over 25 years—and a berth in the New England Prep Clark-Francis Bowl.
He also played in the defensive secondary, which is where his future lies at BYU. “I’m real aggressive (on defense),” says Jordan. “I like contact, and I like to make plays. I’m a good tackler; I feel like I can make tackles day in and day out.”
“Part of his strength of character is his very, very fierce competitive nature,” says Coach Konovalchik. “On the defensive side of the ball he’s just a fierce hitter and an amazing shutdown corner. He is most at home out on an island, shutting down opposing receivers.”
Jordan also believes his experience playing quarterback will help him in his projected role as a cornerback in Bronco Mendenhall’s defense. “I know what quarterbacks and wide receivers want to do. I believe I will be able to read them.”
Jordan also says that he has appreciated the warm welcome he has received from the BYU community.
Since his signing with the Cougars, he says he has read numerous well wishes on Internet sites and seen many positive comments on his highlight-reel videos on sites such as YouTube.
“It's kind of overwhelming, but it's a great feeling.”