Northwestern has added one of the crown jewels of the 2017 recruiting class, securing Clemson transfer quarterback Hunter Johnson. He will sit out a year and be eligible — and the frontrunner for the starting job — in 2019, following the departure of current starter Clayton Thorson.
This is an absolutely massive get for Pat Fitzgerald, Mick McCall and the rest of the Northwestern staff. From our report on his intentions to transfer a few weeks ago:
“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.”
Johnson was pushed out of the running for the Clemson job with starter Kelly Bryant returning for his senior year and top 2018 recruit Trevor Lawrence enrolling early.
“I’m thrilled to be a part of the Wildcat family,” Johnson said via press release. “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. My focus now is on doing everything in my power to help this team prepare to compete for a Big Ten West title. Go ‘Cats!”
Northwestern and Purdue quickly emerged as frontrunners for the talented passer, and the Wildcats won out over Johnson’s home-state Boilermakers. Johnson’s older brother, Cole, used to play for Northwestern, and with Thorson graduating, there is an opening under center.
Johnson will sit for the 2018 season and have three years remaining.