Clemson’s loss was Northwestern’s gain last season. When former five-star quarterback Hunter Johnson was behind Kelly Bryant and Trevor Lawrence on the depth chart, his opportunity to become the starter for the Tigers seemed slim.
Johnson decided to leave Clemson and transferred to Northwestern, a place where he’d likely take over the starting job almost immediately. With four-year starter Clayton Thorson now gone, the path was much clearer in Evanston.
After serving a redshirt season with the Wildcats last fall, Johnson is now preparing to become the starting quarterback on Pat Fitzgerald’s squad. And that’s what he talked about in a recent interview with Adam Rittenberg of ESPN.
“I was able to go out there and test myself to a certain extent, and run another team’s offense,” Johnson said of his redshirt year. “Just play ball and see what throws I can make and what I can’t make, scramble around a little bit, and have fun with those guys. It was a fun year.”
Johnson played in seven games at Clemson in 2017, completing 21-of-27 throws for 234 yards and two touchdowns. He looked like the heir to the throne once Bryant’s days with the Tigers were done. But when Lawrence committed to Clemson and became an instant contender for the starting job, Johnson’s chances to be the QB1 thinned.
Now, Johnson is fresh off a redshirt season and learned behind the winningest quarterback in Northwestern history and a player who started more games at quarterback than anyone in B1G history in Thorson.
He’ll have some big shoes to fill, but the former five-star talent is more than capable of doing just that.