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Marietta's Taji Johnson signals the number one as he scores on the open drive on a Harrison Bailey Pass during Friday night football action. Staff-Kelly J. Huff

For Marietta wide receiver Taji Johnson, his college decision was weighed heavily on academics.

The decision came down to two Atlantic Coast Conference schools -- Boston College and Syracuse -- and the academic rigor of BC was what won over the three-star recruit.

“Obviously, it’s ACC-level football, which is good for me and my game,” Johnson said, “but, also, academically, it pushed me over the edge.”

Johnson’s relationship with recruiter Antoine Smith and wide receivers coach Rich Gunnell was strong and he was sold on the thought of getting to play early.

“I talked with them just about every day, and they did a really good job of keeping me in the loop, and I really appreciated them,” Johnson said. “I want to get the chance to play early, and I have a great opportunity and can take advantage of all that 1-on-1 ball.”

Marietta coach Richard Morgan thought Boston College was a great fit for the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Johnson, and he was not surprised academics played a large part in the rising senior's commitment.

“They like the big, physical receivers at Boston College. It’s the kind of player they like for their offense,” Morgan said. “He’s such a high-academic kid. He’s got a 3.7 GPA. and he’ll enjoy the strong academics Boston College has to offer.”

Johnson, who caught 51 passes for 661 yards and three touchdowns last season, became an even bigger target for quarterback Harrison Bailey after since-graduated receiver Ramel Keyton was injured.

The added familiarity should benefit Johnson and Bailey as they head into the 2019 season.

Johnson plans to graduate in December to be at Boston College for spring practice next year. As for the timing of his commitment, Johnson wanted to get it out of the way to focus on the moment.

“I wanted to get it over with, so I could focus on the spring game, focus on summer ball and my team, and focus on winning the state championship,” Johnson said. “That’s the goal.”

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