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Scouting the Clemson roster: Hunter Johnson

The Clemson Insider gives a scouting report on every player on Clemson’s two-deep depth chart. We will break down what the player does best, what he needs to work on, how he compares to other former players at his position and where he fits on the Clemson roster.

Player name: Hunter Johnson

Player position: Quarterback

Years left of eligibility: 4 years

Current rank on depth chart: co-second

Player productivity so far: True freshman. He has not played. He did participate in spring practice after enrolling in school in January. He completed 5-of-13 pass for 48 yards with one touchdown and one interception in the spring game. He threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Diondre Overton.

What player does best: Johnson was the talk of the quarterback race the last half of spring practice as he put himself in position to compete for the starting job this summer. He showed better command of the offense in the second half of the spring, was more confident with where he was going with the football and looked comfortable in the pocket. The coaches also like the way Johnson ran the football in the Tigers’ zone-read concepts and on designed running plays. He also showed his athleticism on several occasions in passing situations when he extended plays with his feet and found open receivers down the field.

What player needs to work on: He still has a ways to go in the playbook and is just learning the nuances of it. He also has to settle down and trust his instincts. The game is still moving too fast for him, but when he does slow things down his talent really starts to show.

Productivity of former Clemson players at the position (first year and last):  
Deshaun Watson, 2014: 93-of-137 for 1,466 yards, 14 TDs, 2 INTs, 67.9 completion percentage, 183.3 yards per game and a 188.6 passing efficiency rating. Rushed for 200 yards on 63 carries, while averaging 3.2 yards per carry and scored 5 touchdowns.

Deshaun Watson, 2016: 388-of-579 for 4,593 yards, 41 TDs, 17 INTs, 67.0 completion percentage, 306.2 yards per game and a 151.14 passing efficiency rating. Rushed for 626 yards on 166 carries, while averaging 3.8 yards per carry and scoring 9 touchdowns.

Tajh Boyd, 2011: 298-of-499 for 3,828 yards, 33 TDs, 12 INTs, 59.7 completion percentage, 273.4 yards per game and a 141.2 passing efficiency rating. Rushed for 218 yards on 142 carries while averaging 1.5 yards per carry and scoring 5 touchdowns.

Tajh Boyd, 2013: 283-of-413 for 3,851 yards, 34 TDs, 11 INTs, 68.5 completion percentage, 296.2 yards per game and a 168.7 passing efficiency rating. Rushed for 400 yards on 164 carries, while averaging 2.6 yards per carry and scoring 10 touchdowns.

What can you hope for? You hope Johnson reports to camp in August with an even better understanding of the offense and really begins to push both Kelly Bryant and Zerrick Cooper for the starting job.

What is a realistic expectation? Think about it this way. There is a reason why the coaching staff listed Johnson as the co-No. 2, despite the fact he is a true freshman. The coaches believe he can compete for the starting job so it is realistic to believe he could be the starter at some point this season.

What about the future? This is an interesting situation. If Johnson wins the starting job at some point this year, then he is the man to beat out at quarterback for the next two or three years, but if not, where does he fall in the pecking order once fellow 5-star quarterback Trevor Lawrence gets on campus next January? What does that mean for his future at Clemson? What does any of it mean?

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