Reports this morning from Larry Williams at TigerIllustrated.com suggest Hunter Johnson — a former 5 star recruit and #1 quarterback in the 2017 recruiting class — will transfer from the Clemson football team, citing a source close to the team. This was not unexpected with the emergence of freshman sensation Trevor Lawrence, but is a blow to quarterback depth nonetheless.
BREAKING: Clemson QB Hunter Johnson set to transfer. Details here: https://t.co/PTD6KPlbX9— Larry Williams (@LarryWilliamsTI) May 21, 2018
It’s easy to read between the lines here: Johnson figured to be the odd man out in the quarterback battle between himself, Lawrence, and incumbent senior Kelly Bryant; between practice reports and the spring game itself, it seems Lawrence’s performance put the writing on the wall for Johnson. Lacking Bryant’s incumbent status or seniority to hold off Lawrence’s imminent surge to the top of the depth chart, it makes sense Johnson would look to transfer sooner rather than later.
Live look at me driving the Trevor Lawrence hype train pic.twitter.com/wWu71FqZyB— #1 Clemson Blogger/Dog Dad Online (@NotAlexCraft) May 21, 2018
With his own future in mind, it is wise for Johnson to transfer now rather than in December in order to save a year of eligibility elsewhere. I personally expect Johnson to return to the Midwest, likely landing at Northwestern or Purdue; the latter would be particularly compelling with Jeff Brohm revolutionizing the Purdue offense.
Johnson is now the second high-profile transfer from the program in less than a week, with early-enrollee Josh Belk being granted an unconditional release from coach Dabo Swinney last week. Clemson now has only 3 scholarship quarterbacks and 78 scholarship players on what is expected to be one of this season’s national championship favorites.