Utah assistant Brian Johnson named Mississippi State QBs coach

By Jerry Hinnen | College Football Writer

Brian Johnson was recruited to play at Utah by Dan Mullen. (USATSI)
Brian Johnson was recruited to play at Utah by Dan Mullen. (USATSI)
Dan Mullen's connections to Utah -- the school he helped to an undefeated 2004 season as an assistant under Urban Meyer -- have faded a bit as he and Meyer have moved on to multiple other coaching stops. But those connections were still strong enough to help Mullen find a new quarterbacks coach Tuesday.

Mullen announced that former Ute quarterback and 2013 Ute assistant Brian Johnson would be Les Koenning's replacement on the Mississippi State staff after Koenning left to join Charlie Strong's staff at Texas last month. Johnson will coach quarterbacks while Bulldog assistants Billy Gonzales and John Hevesy have been promoted to co-offensive coordinators. Mullen will continue to call plays himself.

“I've known Brian since I recruited him at Utah, and he is an excellent fit to our staff with his experience and knowledge of the quarterback position,” Mullen said in a statement. “Along with Brian's addition, Billy and John will continue to develop our offense, which was the most explosive in school history last season ... The 2014 season promises to be an exciting one for our team and fans.”

Still only 26 (he turns 27 this Sunday), Johnson was one of the hottest young stars in coaching when he was named Utah's offensive coordinator -- the youngest coordinator in the FBS -- in February 2011. But his first Utes offense finished 95th in FBS yards per-play, and his 2012 unit 111th. That resulted in Dennis Erickson being hired as co-offensive coordinator before the 2013 season, and then former Wyoming head coach Dave Christensen as offensive coordinator for the 2014 season, with Johnson demoted to quarterbacks coach.

Johnson quarterbacked Utah to a perfect 13-0 season and Sugar Bowl upset of Alabama in the 2008 season, and left Utah as the winningest quarterback in school history with 26 wins.

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