Northwestern football coach Pat Fitzgerald has just landed his biggest recruit as head coach of the Wildcats. Hunter Johnson, a former five-star quarterback, has officially been added to the Northwestern football family after a transfer from Clemson.
“I’m thrilled to be a part of the Wildcat family,” Johnson said in a released statement. “The program that Coach Fitzgerald and his staff have built at Northwestern is phenomenal, and one my family has had the opportunity to get to know and trust. I am thankful to Coach Swinney and the Clemson family for all their support over the past year-and-a-half.”
“We are ecstatic to add a player of Hunter’s caliber and character to our program,” said Fitzgerald in a released statement. “He comes from an outstanding family, one we’ve had the opportunity to know for many years, and he will fit right in to the culture we continue to build here in Evanston. I’m excited for the opportunity to be his coach and look forward to him joining our football family on campus this month.”
Johnson will have to sit out the 2018 season due to standard NCAA transfer rules, which actually works out well for Northwestern anyway. The Wildcats will get one more year out of starter Clayton Thorson at quarterback before he moves on. That allows Johnson to spend a year getting adjusted to Northwestern and prepare for the starting job in 2019. Johnson will have three years of eligibility to use and can burn his redshirt season this year.
Clemson quarterback Hunter Johnson is reportedly seeking to transfer to a new program, according to multiple reports Monday morning. The sophomore, a former five-star recruit in Clemson’s Class of 2017, is believed to have a desire to play for a couple of Big Ten schools.
Purdue and Northwestern have emerged as the top two potential destinations within the Big Ten, according to various reports. Johnson is an Indiana native and would figure to step right into a possible starting job with either the Boilermakers or Wildcats if he were to transfer to either Big Ten school. Of course, Johnson would have to wait until 2019 to begin playing for Purdue or Northwestern or any other FBS school due to NCAA transfer rules.
Despite Johnson’s talent and potential, it appears he got stuck in a tough spot on a Clemson roster that is overflowing with top-tier talent. With Kelly Bryant essentially cemented as Clemson’s starting quarterback, Johnson would have been waiting for his time to shine at the position, assuming he beat out the competition for the job. Clemson just added a five-star quarterback in the most recent recruiting class with Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence has already enrolled and played well in the Clemson spring game, offering a glimpse to the future of Clemson’s offense once Bryant moves on.
Johnson appeared in seven games as a freshman for the ACC champion Clemson Tigers last season, in which he completed 21 of 27 pass attempts for 234 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Zerrick Cooper, also a freshman last fall, appeared in three more games than Johnson as both backing up Bryant.
Purdue and Northwestern would both figure to be good landing spots for Johnson. Northwestern is preparing for one final year with Clayton Thorson at the helm, and Johnson could potentially slide right in once the 2019 season comes around after sitting out the year as a transfer. Purdue would also give Johnson a chance to shine in an offense coached by Jeff Brohm, which could rack up all kinds of attractive passing stats.
Johnson will have three years of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2018 season. He also has a redshirt option to spare.