, providing some clarity to the Tigers' ongoing battle. While there are plenty of transfers going down this time of year, Johnson's decision is noteworthy because of a label that will forever be attached to his name: five-star quarterback. With his decision, Johnson joins a second, growing fraternity: five-star quarterback transfers.
Johnson is the fifth quarterback among the last eight five-stars at the position to hit the transfer market, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. Depending who you ask, that may indicate we have something of an epidemic on our hands: coddled blue-chip players running for the hills at the first sign of adversity. Or maybe you'll hear that the recruiting industry is off its game if none of its five-stars can win or keep a starting job.
Johnson is a great example of why both of those explanations are wrong. He didn't run from competition when he decommitted from Tennessee (where he probably would have started as a true freshman in 2017) to go to Clemson, a place recruiting as well as anyone in college football. He didn't run from competition when he stayed committed despite Clemson landing a pledge from the No. 1 player in the country one class behind him in Trevor Lawrence.
And he's not running from competition now, either. He's reading the writing on the wall, and it is in all capital letters.
Johnson enrolled early at Clemson with hopes of winning the starting job as a freshman. There's no shame in losing that job to Kelly Bryant, a guy entering his third year in the program who would go on to lead Clemson to the College Football Playoff.
This spring, Johnson tooled up for another competition with Bryant; this time, that aforementioned No. 1 quarterback prospect entered the equation. Lawrence not only received a hero's welcome from Clemson fans at the spring game following a spirited introduction over the PA system, he delivered a jaw-dropping performance (11 of 16, 122 yards, TD).
Johnson is no less the talent we thought he was coming out of high school, but neither is Lawrence -- and there's no honor in riding the bench at the expense of an NFL career.
In addition to Johnson, we've seen transfers from five-stars Jacob Eason (Georgia to Washington), Kyler Murray (Texas A&M to Oklahoma), Shea Patterson (Ole Miss to Michigan) and Blake Barnett (Alabama to Arizona State to USF).
- Eason got Wally Pipp'd by Jake Fromm, another highly rated prospect that led Georgia to a national championship appearance. There's buzz in Washington that he's going to be fantastic when he gets his opportunity in 2019.
- Patterson was one of several Ole Miss players that left for greener pastures after NCAA sanctions. He'll be trying to play himself into the first round in the pro-style system at Michigan this fall.
- Murray fled Kevin Sumlin at Texas A&M only a year before the administration did the same. Now he takes over for a Heisman Trophy winner at Oklahoma under arguably the best offensive mind in the country in Lincoln Riley.
- Even Barnett, overtaken by the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the country at Alabama, has
If anything, we're seeing a rash of transfers from high-profile quarterbacks because this generation is embracing competition. Guys like Lawrence, Fromm and both Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts at Alabama are stepping in and beating out highly regarded guys above them. College football coaches are as willing as ever to give the nod to ability over seniority.
Five of the last seven national championship games have featured either a true freshman or redshirt freshman starting under center. Whether it's that quarterbacks are coming in more prepared than ever, high school and college systems are more similar than ever, or simply that college coaches are less shackled by tradition than ever, young guys are playing.
The flip side to that trend is all the years of eligibility that are left for the upperclassmen that just got passed up on the depth chart. Baker Mayfield, the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, was certainly not a five-star prospect, but he proved to be talented at Texas Tech. Still, he got passed over and left town. Three of the 10 quarterbacks drafted in 2017 got passed up on depth charts before transferring elsewhere; three more former transfers were drafted in 2016.
Those transfers that made it aren't a product of a wayward generation. They're guys that recognize their value. They recognize that they've got one shot at this college football thing, and they'd better make it count.