5-star QB Hunter Johnson leaving Clemson

Hunter Johnson is leaving Clemson.

Clemson confirmed multiple media reports stating that Johnson, a quarterback who joined the Tigers as a five-star recruit last year, has decided to transfer from the program.

“While it is always disappointing to lose a great person and a great player, I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to work with Hunter and watch him grow and develop over the last year and a half,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said in a statement. “Hunter is one of the best young men I have ever coached and has a very bright future ahead of him. I wish him all the best as he decides on his destination.”

What it means for Clemson

Entering 2018, Johnson was competing with Kelly Bryant, a senior, and another five-star freshman, Trevor Lawrence for the starting role. Lawrence, Rivals.com’s No. 1 recruit in the 2018 class, enrolled early and battled Bryant and Johnson during spring practice.

Bryant was inconsistent in 2017 as a first-year starter succeeding Deshaun Watson. For the year, Bryant threw for 2,802 yards, 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions while gaining 665 yards and scoring 11 times on the ground. He finished the year on a low note, however. In the College Football Playoff semifinal matchup against Alabama, Bryant completed only 18-of-36 passes for 124 yards and two interceptions.

Johnson and Lawrence were expected to make a major push this spring for Bryant’s starting role. Monday’s news makes it clear that Lawrence had an edge and will very much be in the mix for playing time.

With Johnson’s departure, the Tigers have just three scholarship quarterbacks left on the roster: Bryant, Lawrence and redshirt freshman Chase Brice, a four-star recruit in 2017. Still, the Tigers should be in good shape for 2018 with an experienced option like Bryant and a promising freshman in Lawrence pushing him.

Who is Hunter Johnson?

Johnson was rated by Rivals as the second-best pro-style quarterback recruit in the 2017 class. He appeared in seven games in 2017 as a true freshman, completing 21-of-27 passes for 234 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

Johnson served as a backup behind Bryant, splitting mop-up snaps with Zerrick Cooper. Cooper transferred to Jacksonville State earlier this offseason. Another backup, Tucker Israel, also transferred.

Where could Johnson transfer?

Rumors of Johnson’s potential transfer have been out there for quite a while, so it’s not a surprise that several suitors have emerged in media reports already. Johnson, a native of Brownsburg, Indiana, is expected to look to the Big Ten for his transfer destination, including two options not too far from his hometown: Purdue and Northwestern. Johnson’s brother played at Northwestern.

Wherever Johnson lands, he will have three years of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2018 season to satisfy NCAA transfer requirements.

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Sam Cooper is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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