When Jason Hammond Jr. committed to Iowa State on Monday, he solidified his home for the next four years of his football career.
He also secured a yearly game against Iowa – the school at which his cousin, Jaleel Johnson, starred before going to the NFL.
“At first he called me stupid,” Hammond Jr. said jokingly. “But he was happy for me. He just told me to go out there and be smart, be careful who you hang with, just the whole nine about college life.”
Johnson was a standout defensive lineman at Iowa and was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the fourth round of the 2017 draft.
The Iowa State commit and Florida native will follow in those steps at the same position, years after going to games and watching his cousin perform at a high level in Kinnick Stadium.
“I’m very familiar with Iowa’s weather and, unfortunately, Iowa City, but I’m very excited to play for Ames,” Hammond Jr. said. “My family has already talked about getting like split shirts with Iowa State and Iowa’s colors. I told my cousin in order to take a picture with me, he’s got to have Iowa State on.”
Hammond Jr., a 6-foot-3, 285-pound prospect with offers to West Virginia, Wake Forest and Coastal Carolina among 13 others, visited Ames last weekend alongside nearly two handfuls of other prospects.
Two days later, he knew he wanted to call Iowa State home.
“I think what stood out to me was while I was able to watch Coach (Eli) Rasheed’s film session with the players and Enyi (Uwazurike) was in there actually coaching up the players as well,” Hammond Jr. said. “I think that was one of the biggest things that led to my commitment – to have a guy who’s entering the draft and loves the program so much to where he comes back when he could be anywhere else in the country.”
Hammond Jr. joins Anthony Cunningham Jr. as the pair of defensive line commitments the Cyclones landed this week.
That wasn’t a coincidence, either.
“The funny thing about it was that it was kind of a joint commitment,” Hammond Jr. said. “The Saturday before we left, I talked to Anthony and was like let’s do it. Let’s pull the trigger. For us both to be on board with Coach Rasheed is an awesome feeling because I feel like we can both contribute. I’m extremely happy we were able to get him.”
Hammond Jr. will finish up his high school career this season at St. Thomas Aquinas before joining Iowa State for the 2023 football season.