5-Star QB prospect Hunter Johnson leaving Clemson


Hunter Johnson was the star of Clemson’s 2017 recruiting class. The five-star prospect from Brownsburg High School in Indiana was rated as the No. 2 quarterback in the class and No. 18 player overall.

The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Johnson was even expected to challenge junior Kelly Bryant for the starting job as a true freshman.

He lost that battle, and Bryant led the Tigers to the ACC championship and their third straight College Football Playoff appearance.

Bryant didn’t lock up the starting job for 2018, however; he was nowhere near as productive as his superstar predecessor, Deshaun Watson, and he threw two costly third-quarter interceptions in Clemson’s 24-6 playoff loss to eventual national champion Alabama.

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Johnson had a chance to battle Bryant for the position in the spring along with this year’s true freshman sensation, Trevor Lawrence, and redshirt freshman Chase Brice.

Coach Dabo Swinney and his staff have declined to say who won the competition.

“We’ve got several guys who are ultra talented,” co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said in a radio interview this week. “Four guys we had going through spring ball, we could win a championship with any of those four guys.”

But it became clear that Lawrence is the Tigers’ quarterback of the future, if not the present. The No. 1 overall prospect in the Class of 2018 impressed all spring and put on a show in the Tigers’ spring game.

Evidently Johnson could see the writing on the wall.

The young quarterback announced Monday that he is leaving Clemson.

“I want to thank Coach Swinney and the Clemson family for giving me the opportunity to be a part of something special,” Johnson said in a statement via The State. “I’ve met some amazing people who I will forever call family. I am a better man and a better football player because of my time spent at Clemson. Go Tigers!”

Swinney wished Johnson well.

“While it is always disappointing to lose a great person and a great player, I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to work with Hunter and watch him grow and develop over the last year and a half,” the coach said in a statement via The State. “Hunter is one of the best young men I have ever coached and has a very bright future ahead of him.

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“I wish him all the best as he decides on his destination.”

247 Sports reported Johnson will consider Purdue — which is about an hour away from his hometown of Brownsburg — and Northwestern as possible transfer destinations.

Because of NCAA transfer rules, he will have to sit out the 2018 season and will be eligible starting in 2019. Johnson will have three years of eligibility remaining.

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Todd Windsor is a senior story editor at The Western Journal. He has worked as an editor or reporter in news and sports for more than 30 years.
Todd Windsor is a senior story editor at The Western Journal. He was born in Baltimore and grew up in Maryland. He graduated from the University of Miami (he dreams of wearing the turnover chain) and has worked as an editor and reporter in news and sports for more than 30 years. Todd started at The Miami News (defunct) and went on to work at The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., the St. Petersburg (now Tampa Bay) Times, The Baltimore Sun and Space News before joining Liftable Media in 2016. He and his beautiful wife have two amazing daughters and a very old Beagle.
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