Hunter Johnson has been a long time commit for Clemson and may be the most important early enrollee for the Tigers. The QB from Brownsburg, Indiana, is considered a 5 star by 247’s Composite ranking and will likely compete for the starting job this spring. Johnson stands at 6’3” and weighs in at 200 lbs. He was recruited by Brandon Streeter as well as Jeff Scott and had offers from almost everyone.
At first glance a lot of recruiting services have labelled Johnson as a pro-style QB. But in high school Hunter had a lot of experience in the spread. Most of his snaps came from shotgun and because of the talent, or rather lack of it, surrounding him Johnson put his legs to use.
Johnson arriving on campus for the spring semester is critical. Unlike his fellow QB Chase Brice, Johnson is going to have an entire spring practice to work with the coaches and learn the intricacies of Clemson’s offense. While Cooper may be the favorite to win the starting job, Johnson could push Cooper if he’s able to execute this spring.
Hunter Johnson can spin the football.
Hunter was the top QB in this class who fits Clemson’s system (Davis Mills is a pocket passer who was ultimately ranked ahead of HJ). He can make all the throws and has the arm talent to excel in the spread. He has quick footwork, mobility, and gets the ball out pretty quickly. He isn’t going to be as athletic as Kelly Bryant, but he will be able to run the zone read concepts better than someone like Cole Stoudt. He ran track in high school and is athletic, just athletic (not sneaky athletic).
He will need to limit turnovers/interceptions that happened too frequently at the high school level. He generally has pin point accuracy, but will let the ball sail occasionally (I think this is just keeping his weight balanced and tweaking his mechanics just a bit). He also didn’t have the greatest supporting cast in high school. The real question is whether or not he can make good decisions with the football at the college level, all the time. He will make some amazing throws where he threads the needle, but can also put the ball in jeopardy at times. That needs to be cleaned up.
Clemson should be ecstatic with this pickup. Hunter began the recruiting year as the top overall QB and slid down to the 30 at the end (thanks to 247 dropping him to 53 overall, Deshaun Watson was 41 overall thanks to 247 having him at 81). This is the highest rated QB in Clemson history! If Clemson keeps Trevor Lawrence in the fold, Lawrence, Hunter Johnson, and Deshaun Watson will be the highest rated QB’s to ever come to Clemson. So many teams struggle at the QB position—this is an insane luxury. Thanks to Hunter Clemson has quality depth at the QB position for the foreseeable future.
Johnson will compete for the starting position. Dabo and the coaching staff generally go with the players they trust more and at the QB position will give Bryant and Cooper every opportunity to win the job. HJ will get his chance though. He needs to put on about ten more pounds and show he can be a good decision maker. If he can do that he will be a legitimate contender.