Highlands’ Crise continues to catch attention of college coaches

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Tuesday, July 2, 2019 | 3:46 PM


The Tribune-Review and the TribLive High School Sports Network are profiling each member of the 25-player Trib HSSN Preseason WPIAL Football All-Star team. The players will be recognized July 23 during a HSSN Media Day live broadcast at Kennywood Park.

Johnny Crise announced his arrival on the high school football scene last fall in Highlands’ early-season matchup against Keystone Oaks.

He caught five touchdown passes and accumulated 301 yards in a 49-42 setback. He would go on to finish with 40 receptions, 796 yards and 10 TDs.

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Now, Crise, a tall receiving target at 6-foot-6, hopes he can build on last year’s performance with a strong senior campaign.

“Last year was a great foundation and an eye opener in football,” Crise said. “To have another year to showcase my skills and how I’ve gotten better, I’m really excited for it.”

Crise continues to catch the attention of college coaches, and he has Football Championship Subdivision offers from several schools, including Robert Morris, Duquesne, Albany and Maine.

The rising senior has put his talents on display at camps at Duquesne, Rutgers, Northwestern, Pitt, Kent State and West Virginia and hopes to attend a couple of others before preseason practice begins the second week of August.

Crise said a major point of emphasis this summer has been weight training. Over the past month or so, he has put on about 10 pounds of muscle.

“I know I have to be stronger, tougher and faster to compete at the next level,” he said.

Highlands coach Dom Girardi has noticed a difference in Crise, both on and off the field.

“He’s looking great. Physically, he’s doing the things we want him to do,” Girardi said. “He’s stretching the field vertically and is going up and making plays on jump balls. He’s that deep threat you want in the receiver. We always are looking to get the ball in his hands, even if it’s something short. He’s a physical player, and, usually, the first guy doesn’t bring him down.

“His leadership this summer, by example and verbally, also has been very helpful for us. We’re still a young team in many ways. We’ll look to him to make big plays for us and also help bring some of the younger players along. He does it the right way, also positive and encouraging.”

Crise said while his opportunities for a future in football have surged, he’s by no means closing the book on basketball, where he holds Division I offers from Robert Morris and South Carolina Upstate.

He was a force on the boards and in the scoring column as he helped the Golden Rams reach the WPIAL Class 4A semifinals and qualify for the PIAA playoffs.

Crise gave no timetable for any college decisions and said there are many factors to weigh before that time arrives.

“He realized a lot of the opportunities he had in front of him,” Girardi said. “It’s kind of been a whirlwind these last two or three months. He’s really going about it the right way with a level head on his shoulders. He’s really appreciative of all the attention he is getting.”

Johnny Crise

School: Highlands

Class: Senior

Ht/wt: 6-6/195

Positions: WR/LB

Stars: none

Division I offers: Albany, Bryant, Duquesne, Fordham, Maine, Robert Morris, William & Mary.

2018 statistics: 40 receptions, 796 yards, 10 TDs

Trib HSSN Preseason All-Stars

A.J. Beatty, Central Catholic

Fintan Brose, Hempfield

Tui Brown, Gateway

Michael Carmody, Mars

Josh Casilli, Peters Township

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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