LSU will head into the 2022 season with not only a new head coach, but a different starting quarterback.
Max Johnson, the Tigers’ quarterback since late 2020, announced that he is going to transfer out of LSU. His decision coincides with the announcement by his brother, tight end Jake Johnson, that he would be opening his commitment after previously intending to play for the Tigers.
LSU, Thank you for allowing me to pursue my academic and athletic career here. I have made strong relationships that will last a lifetime with coaches, staff and especially my teammates! With careful and prayerful consideration, I am entering the transfer portal.
— Max Johnson (@Max_Johnson_14) December 8, 2021
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Max Johnson performed well in 2021 in a transition year for the program that saw national championship-winning coach Ed Orgeron part ways with the program. He completed 60.3 percent of his passes with 2,815 passing yards, 27 touchdowns and only six interceptions. His transfer from LSU comes just days after Brian Kelly was announced as the new coach of the program.
Max Johnson is the latest high-profile quarterback to enter the transfer portal, joining former Oklahoma QB Spencer Rattler and Ohio State QB Quinn Ewers.
There will likely be no shortage of teams looking to add Max Johnson to their team for the 2022 season. Here are five potential landing spots for the former four-star recruit.
This is the destination that would seem to make the most sense for Max Johnson. Jordan Travis was adequate as the starter under center, completing 62.9 percent of his passes for 1,539 yards, 15 touchdowns and six interceptions, but the team went 5-7, placing Mike Norvell on the hot seat in Tallahassee.
Max Johnson would be a different style of QB than Travis, offering more of a pro-style game than dual-threat. However, that could be just the style Norvell would be looking for, given the success he had at Memphis with pro-style options such as Riley Ferguson and Brady White.
There’s also the family factor. Their father, Brad Johnson, was the quarterback at Florida State in college before going on to the NFL. The family ties could help the young QB continue on the tradition in Florida.
The pair also seem like they could move to a school as a package deal, especially given that both were slated to be in Baton Rouge in 2022 before they simultaneously decided that would no longer be in the cards. Jake Johnson is the top tight end recruit in the nation, according to 247Sports’ Composite Rankings, and would be a major pickup for the Seminoles in the class. Their 2022 class is already ranked No. 11 in the nation, and adding the No. 85 commit to the ranks would only add to the hype. Jake Johnson could start at the position early, given that Camren McDonald led the position in receiving yards at only 243 on 24 catches this past season.
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Geoff Collins has yet to get the Yellow Jackets above the three-win plateau in his three seasons at the helm, but landing Max and Jake Johnson could go a long way toward turning the team around in a wide open ACC conference.
Last season, QB Jeff Sims completed only 59.9 percent of his passes for 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions, and dealt with injuries that opened the door for Jordan Yates to fill in. Yates also completed 59.9 percent of his passes, throwing six touchdowns and two interceptions.
Georgia Tech has been widely looking for a quarterback to transfer to Atlanta, and Max Johnson, who went to Oconee County High School in Watkinsville, Ga., could be a potential answer. He’d represent a massive upgrade at the position and would slot into the starting role immediately. There is some offensive talent there with wide receiver Malachi Carter and running back Jahmyr Gibbs both likely slated to come back. Jake Johnson would also figure to be able to receive immediate playing time with the leading receiver at tight end having been Dylan Leonard, who caught 11 passes for 112 yards.
If the Johnson brothers wanted to step into a program ready to compete immediately, the Hawkeyes would certainly provide them with that opportunity. The Hawkeyes reached the Big Ten Championship in 2021 and are currently ranked No. 15 in the College Football Playoff rankings. At a time, they ranked as high as No. 2 coming off a win against Penn State.
The Hawkeyes were carried largely by their defense, with the offense struggling to get going. Spencer Petras threw just nine touchdown passes and six interceptions with a completion percentage of 56.6 percent, leading to Alex Padilla filling in at times, including in Iowa’s blowout loss to Michigan in the conference championship. The Hawkeyes have tended to lean on pro-style quarterbacks in the past, and Max Johnson would represent not only an upgrade at the position, but an ideal fit for the offense.
Iowa has also developed a reputation for standout tight ends in the past. George Kittle and Noah Fant have each gone on to find success in the NFL, and tight end Sam Laporta was the team’s leading receiver in 2021 with 548 yards on 46 catches, including a pair of touchdowns.
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If Max Johnson wanted to go to a school with some familiarity to his game, Nebraska would make sense as a transfer destination. Mickey Joseph, the former wide receivers coach and assistant head coach at LSU for a number of years, was recently hired by the Cornhuskers to be the team’s passing game coordinator, associate head coach and wide receivers coach.
That’s not the only hire on the offensive side of the ball that could entice Johnson. According to a report from The Associated Press’ Ralph D. Russo, the Cornhuskers also brought over Pitt offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mark Whipple, who helped develop QB Kenny Pickett into a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2021.
Nebraska finds itself in the market for a quarterback after Adrian Martinez announced he would enter the transfer portal. While Martinez was a dual-threat quarterback, and Cornhuskers head coach Scott Frost has largely found success with dual-threat options, a change of pace at the position could help a program in need of a reset and turnaround.
The Gamecocks are a program on the rise in their first season with Shane Beamer. They reached the Duke’s Mayo Bowl, their first bowl game since 2018, and went 6-6 after two straight losing seasons. To take that next step, they’ll need to find a quarterback.
South Carolina had a bit of a revolving QB situation in Columbia in 2021, with Luke Doty, Jason Brown and Zeb Noland all having opportunities to receive starting snaps for the team. None was particularly exceptional, leaving room for Max Johnson to step in and fill the role should he transfer there. Beamer found success with the QBs in a pro-style offense, and could benefit from having a more dynamic passer under center.
The receiving corps would also receive a boost from Jake Johnson, who could line up with Jaheim Bell at tight end and give the Gamecocks two weapons at the position. Last season, Bell was second on the team with 338 receiving yards, three touchdowns and 25 receptions.