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Former Clemson quarterback Hunter Johnson to transfer, Northwestern high on his list

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Johnson was the second-best pro-style quarterback in the 2017 class, per 247 Sports’ composite ranking.

NCAA Football: Clemson Spring Game Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

Hunter Johnson has decided to transfer from Clemson, per a report from TigerIllustrated.com, and Northwestern and Purdue have emerged as strong contenders for the Indiana native’s services, per ESPN.

Johnson would have to sit out the 2018 season due to NCAA transfer rules. He has three years of eligibility left. The Tigers return senior starter Kelly Bryant, and they also have the nation’s top 2018 recruit, Trevor Lawrence, who enrolled early. With a potential logjam at the position, Johnson has decided to look elsewhere.

Johnson was 21 of 27 for 234 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in his limited time with the Tigers last year. In his most extensive action, he was seven of eight for 144 yards and a score in Clemson’s blowout win over The Citadel. Ranked as a five-star recruit from all the recruiting services, Johnson had offers from all over the nation, including one from Northwestern. He originally committed to Tennessee before deciding on Clemson. In 247Sports’ composite rating, Johnson was the 30th-best player in the nation and second-best pro-style quarterback.

Here are his high school highlights from Hudl:

It makes sense that Northwestern would emerge as a contender for Johnson’s services. He’s from Brownsburg, Ind., a suburb of Indianapolis and a very reasonable drive to the Chicagoland area. His brother, Cole, spent four years with Northwestern as a reserve wide receiver, graduating after his redshirt junior year.

Most importantly, though, Northwestern would offer immediate playing time after Johnson’s redshirt season. Clayton Thorson, who is coming off a torn ACL suffered in the Music City Bowl and whose status for the beginning of the 2018 season is up in the air, will have exhausted his eligibility by the end of the 2018 season, and the depth behind him is very much unproven. Johnson would immediately step in and seemingly be the favorite to start in 2019, especially after a season of learning under the program’s all-time winningest quarterback.