For the past few weeks, Northwestern fans have been wondering why highly-touted five-star transfer quarterback Hunter Johnson has remained on the sideline as starter Aidan Smith struggled. Now, thanks to the reporting of Teddy Greenstein and the Chicago Tribune, part of the answer to those questions have been revealed.
Though, as Pat Fitzgerald already told the media, a relatively minor knee injury held Johnson out initially, a key factor in his absence from the starting role has been a family health issue. His mother, Shana, is currently in the midst of recovery from chemotherapy and a mastectomy that occurred fewer than two weeks ago after a recent diagnosis of breast cancer, according to the Tribune.
Understandably, to this point Fitzgerald had not publicly commented on the reason behind Johnson’s removal from the starting role besides referencing the aforementioned injury. Now, Johnson told the Tribune, “the bulk” of the procedures are out of the way, and “at this point, things are good.”
According to Greenstein, Johnson is now ready to return to the starting lineup, potentially playing this week for the first time since the game against Wisconsin five weeks ago. Reportedly, he and Fitzgerald had a “heart-to-heart,” soon after the injury that knocked him out against the Badgers, with the coach “taking football off his plate.”
Johnson was still practicing and traveling with the team throughout the process, and now says that he hopes to play on Saturday in his return to his home state. When we know more about the events of the last few weeks and what the future holds for Johnson and Northwestern, updates will be provided.
We here at Inside NU wish the best to Johnson, his mother, and his entire family as they continue down the road of recovery.