Spotlight: Johnson commits to play baseball at NIU

Rochelle senior Brandon Johnson will play baseball and study mechanical engineering at Northern Illinois University next year. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

Rochelle senior to study mechanical engineering

Rochelle senior Brandon Johnson has excelled across three sports throughout his time at Rochelle Township High School. He’s qualified for the IHSA Individual State Championships and helped the Hubs place fourth in the IHSA State Dual Championships for wrestling, and he was an integral two-way player for the Rochelle varsity football program, which has made the postseason three times in a row while reaching the state quarterfinals in 2017.

Johnson also happens to be an All-Conference First Team baseball player for the Hubs. And when the senior graduates from RTHS this spring, he’ll be taking his talents to Northern Illinois University, becoming the second Hub to commit to the Huskies in three years after former Rochelle standout Kyle Seebach signed in early 2017.

“I chose NIU to continue my athletic career because of how close the school is to home and because it’s a Division I school,” Johnson said. “I’m looking forward to focusing on just one sport and trying to be the best I can be… At RTHS, we focus a lot on hitting and I think that is the reason why my hitting has improved so much. I also think that’s why NIU noticed me.”

Johnson hit .484 with a .611 on-base percentage his junior season, recording seven home runs, 25 RBIs and 29 runs in 22 games. He pitched and played outfield for the Hubs, and he continues to fill both of those roles for the Rochelle varsity baseball program this season. Johnson said he plans to study mechanical engineering while playing baseball for the Huskies. He also said he will either pitch or play the outfield at NIU, and he said he wants to continue developing as both a fielder and a pitcher.

“Brandon is a really good kid,” Rochelle head baseball coach Jarrod Reynolds said. “He works hard and he’s successful at anything he puts his mind to. It had been so much fun watching him play over these last four years. Brandon can flat out hit and play the outfield. I look forward to every at-bat he had, and I wish Brandon nothing but success at NIU.”

Johnson finished 20-9 as a varsity wrestler during his junior year, qualifying for state at 220 pounds. He played running back and linebacker for the varsity football team, totaling 731 yards and eight touchdowns his senior season. Johnson was also named the All-Conference First Team punter as both a junior and a senior.

“Brandon really embodies the quality of grit,” Rochelle head football coach Kyle Kissack said. “He’s just a worker, plain and simple. He really embodies the values our football program seeks to provide for our kids, which are to be relentless, reliable, resilient and respectful as a student-athlete. He’s humble and I’m proud of who he’s become as a young man.”

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