The news came out on Monday morning that former 5-star Clemson QB Hunter Johnson would be transferring out of the program. Johnson was a big-time prospect from Brownsburg, Indiana and reports are he fell to third in line behind Kelly Bryant and stud true freshman Trevor Lawrence. According to 247Sports, Johnson has interest in a pair of Big Ten schools, Northwestern and Purdue. But don’t sleep on Texas Tech possibly trying to find its way into the mix.
It might sound crazy, and it probably is (?), but let me connect some dots for you. Johnson was recruited heavily by five schools when he was in high school: Clemson, Florida, Indiana, Notre Dame and Penn State. He was recruited to Indiana by Kevin Johns, who spent the majority of his career in the Big Ten at Northwestern and then Indiana, where he worked his way up to offensive coordinator. After a two-year stint at Western Michigan, Johns is now the offensive coordinator for Kliff Kingsbury and the Texas Tech Red Raiders.
Like Johnson, Johns is originally a Midwest guy (Piqua, Ohio) and might be the one person who could convince Johnson to make the trek out to West Texas.
But as we know there are a couple of things hurting the Red Raiders’ chances, and I’m not even going to count the distance from his hometown (16 hours and 23 minutes, if you’re counting). Johnson is going to have to sit out a year before playing which is great for Texas Tech, as it’s not clear who their next stud starting quarterback is in Lubbock, or if he’s on the roster. But from Johnson’s vantage point, there’s little guarantee the coaching staff he would be committing to would be the same coaching staff he would end up playing for in 2019 and beyond. Texas Tech has given Kliff Kingsbury more time, but who’s to believe the leash is much longer than 2018? Not this guy, and I highly doubt Johnson buys it. That’s what puts Kingsbury and his staff in a tough position on the recruiting trail and likely one of the many reasons they’ve seen so many transfers out of the program and have missed out on potential grad transfers like Tre Watson, the running back who picked Texas over Texas Tech last week.
Also, if Johnson already reported has two Big Ten schools on his radar, it seems he’s of the belief if he’s going to leave Clemson, he’s attracted to the idea of being closer to home. I don’t blame him for that, but it certainly doesn’t help Texas Tech’s cause. I, for one, would warn him on Purdue, as head coach Jeff Brohm was named as a candidate for several jobs last season, including Tennessee. Is he committed to the Boilermakers for the long term? We’ll see. Pat Fitzgerald has done wonders with the Northwestern program, and there are few better degrees in America, but who is the last legitimate NFL quarterback he produced?
It’s not likely, but if Texas Tech wants to inject a shot of energy into a program that desperate needs it, kicking the tires on Hunter Johnson would be a good place to start.