Highlands’ Johnny Crise accepts preferred walk-on offer from Penn State

Tuesday, December 10, 2019 | 2:40 PM

Highlands’ athlete Johnny Crise made his college decision Tuesday and accepted a preferred walk-on offer to play football at Penn State.

Until this past summer, Crise planned to play basketball at the collegiate level. But after catching 40 passes for 796 yards and 10 touchdowns as a junior, football offers started to come in. Fordham, Lehigh, Albany, Maine, Duquesne, Robert Morris and a few others were all in the mix for Crise.

The Nittany Lions came into play late, and even though it was a preferred walk-on opportunity, the athletic wide receiver felt the love from State College. Being close to home didn’t hurt either.

“The family and the tradition up there, I really just fell in love with it,” Crise said. “All the coaches, they really loved me, and I just felt the love. Family is a big thing for me too, so being able to have my mom drive up there and watch me play, along with the rest of my family, that was really big for me.”

Crise also said that he was told his preferred walk-on offer has the ability to turn into a full scholarship.

“They said all I have to do is prove it,” Crise said. “That’s something that I will hold myself real accountable on. I am one of those players that if I put my mind to it, I can achieve it, so that’s where we are.”

Along with hoping to earn a full scholarship, Crise will have to undergo a position change as well. During his time at Highlands, Crise had the athletic ability to play anywhere on the field but primarily lined up at wide receiver and safety this past season. When he gets to Penn State, the coaching staff wants him to bulk up to about 210 pounds and play tight end.

At the beginning of his senior season, Crise was listed at 6-foot-6 and 200 pounds, so he has some work to do, but he’s excited to get started.

“I just want to build on everything,” Crise said. “I want to be one of the best leaders, I want to work on my footwork, and obviously, I need to bulk up. So going into there, I just have to do me, not try to change, not try to do anything special. I just need to buy into the program. There are great guys up there, great coaches and I’m putting my full trust into them.”

Sometimes it’s funny how things work out, too. For as long as he can remember, Crise always wanted to play basketball at the next level and ironically enough, he dreamed of playing for Penn State.

“For it to flip like this and for it to be football, well, we still got there,” Crise said with a laugh.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .


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