NEWTON - The Boston College Eagles are flying higher than expected this season, becoming bowl eligible after a five-game winning streak earlier in the season.
And it's all thanks to a solid season from their quarterback Thomas Castellanos.
"He's electrifying, he gives us hope each time we have the football to score," said Head Coach of the Eagles Jeff Hafley.
But off the field, the play of one of their wide receivers may have the biggest impact on the team.
Taji Johnson is in his senior year at BC and is running much of his routes on the campus and in the community.
Taji participates in dozens of campus and community activities, such as Eagles for Equality, the Boston Public School Pen Pal Program and Boston College Black Male Initiative, where he's the president and founding member.
"A few years ago I helped start the Black Male Initiative, it is a diversity and inclusion group for black males here on campus. Kind of what we do is we serve as a voice for the unheard. Not only do things for ourselves, but things for the Boston community. Getting out working with kids in the community at elementary schools, youth groups. We wanted to make an impact and improve the lives of others," Taji said.
"Oh man it's grown so much. The first meeting is about we could do this, we could do that. Then the very next meeting it was all about we are going to do this, we are going to do that. And then looking at it now, we've done so much stuff, it's like what's next? What can we do? What can we tackle? We've definitely worked with football programs around Boston, and we've also brought groups on campus to kind of show them what it's like to bc a BC student athlete. It's kind of giving those kids that sense of what we're doing is possible, and definitely for you," Taji said.
"View for Equality is the big student athlete inclusion group for all the student athletes at BC. Each year, each semester we centralize with one big thing, that is really needed to raise awareness for. And we literally walk, like Martin Luther King did back in the day. It is literally walking through campus, bringing everybody that you possibly can, and it's just grown every year. It has become an annual thing."
"It definitely shaped the way this university worked, I would say. Since 2020 with the Black Lives Matter movement it's definitely shaped the way people look at things, and look at the world, how they approach certain things," Taji said.
Taji is from just outside of Atlanta, Georgia, where his mom works in education and his father is a law enforcement officer.
"My mom is actually a school counselor and she's also a motivational public speaker, that's kind of where I got my voice from. My dad was working at Atlanta Police Department for 30 years now and he's definitely put that discipline in my life growing up."
The 6'4" senior has already earned a degree in just three years in applied psychology and is currently working on his masters in the hopes of working with athletes and mental health.
"My mom always told me to make time for the things that you want to do. So for me finding time to give back to my community and improve the lives around me, that's what I take pride in."
Taji has appeared in every game of his career at wide receiver and on special teams and is a highly recognizable face on the BC campus.
His influence goes beyond athletics and in some ways, Johnson is turning BC into a community.
"Being a Georgia boy, coming up from the south is a very different environment. But I've taken on that role to kind of embrace it the best that I could, and the Boston community means so much to me now."
"He's a selfless guy who cares about other people. That's what we need more of in this world," finished Hafley.
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