Dabo Swinney once viewed Hunter Johnson as the quarterback of the future for Clemson. That changed over the past year with Kelly Bryant’s emergence in 2017 and the signing of 5-star prospect Trevor Lawrence.
Still, Swinney understands the talent Johnson possesses. The 11th-year Clemson coach made that clear in a statement after granting the former 5-star prospect his release.
“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,” Swinney said in a university release. “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.”
Johnson was the No. 2 quarterback prospect in the nation for the Class of 2017, according to the 247Sports composite rankings. He was a candidate to replace Deshaun Watson, but was beat out by Bryant last season.
The Brownsburg, Ind., native was involved in the Tigers’ quarterback competition this offseason. However, if the spring game was any indication, he was the third option behind the incumbent Bryant and Lawrence, who is believed to be one of the best quarterback prospects in recent memory.
Clemson is left with three scholarship quarterbacks following Johnson’s departure, turning what was once a position of immense strength into one that lacks depth.