Top 2017 QB Hunter Johnson visiting Notre Dame on Sunday
College football programs are already lining up to recruit Hunter Johnson.
The sophomore quarterback from Brownsburg, Ind., received his first scholarship offer in July from Tennessee. When 247Sports tabbed Johnson in August as the No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the 2017 class, it amplified the attention.
Johnson, who will take an unofficial recruiting visit to Notre Dame on Sunday, already holds double-digit offers.
“I didn't really expect it to take off as quick as it did,” Johnson said of his recruitment. “I always had a feeling that recruiting would pick up. As a sophomore, I hoped it would happen this way. I'm very glad it did. I know my abilities.”
Everything has come at an accelerated pace for Johnson. He started his first game for Brownsburg High as a freshman. Recently, Johnson became one of the first recruits to accept an invitation to play in the 2017 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Now he’s set to dive into the recruiting process.
Johnson spent Saturday at Northwestern, where his older brother Cole plays wide receiver, before heading to South Bend. Johnson attended an Irish football camp last summer and Notre Dame’s home game against Northwestern in November. Sunday’s visit was scheduled as an introduction to new offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mike Sanford.
“I got in contact with coach Sanford two weeks ago for the first time,” Johnson said. “He wanted me to come for a visit so we could actually meet in person.”
The two started to communicate weekly after first making contact. Sanford asked Johnson to be at Notre Dame at 8 a.m., Sunday in order to have plenty of time together on campus.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Johnson said.
The Irish have yet to extend many offers in the 2017 class, but Johnson certainly qualifies as a potential candidate at the quarterback position.
His advanced development is clear on film. His 6-foot-3, 197-pound frame features a strong arm and a solid base. He completed 122 of his 226 passes for 1,434 yards and 10 touchdowns as a sophomore. He has routinely shown great touch on deep balls.
247Sports pegs him as the No. 9 prospect overall in his class regardless of position. Rivals has yet to rank the 2017 class by position, but has rated him as a four-star recruit.
Asked why he’s been able to have success so early in his high school career, Johnson points first to his passion for the game but then quickly shifts the acclaim to his teammates. He praised running back Toks Akinribade and wide receiver Tyler Kirtz, both of whom are drawing Division I interest, for helping him thrive at Brownsburg.
“Having those guys around me that work their butts off helps to push me,” Johnson said. “I feel like next season is going to be good for us."
Labeled as a pro-style quarterback, Johnson is well-practiced at running a spread offense. He typically operates out of a shotgun or pistol formation at Brownsburg. Perhaps in an effort to show off his mobility, Johnson’s sophomore highlight reel starts with a play in which he scrambles for seven seconds and throws a pass 35 yards downfield as he rolls to his right.
Johnson spends time working on both the physical and mental aspects of the game in the offseason. He said he meets twice a week with his offensive coordinator to talk plays and coverages. Weekends are spent working on mechanics and footwork with a private quarterback coach.
“I'm just looking to get as much help as I can,” Johnson said. “I'm trying to soak in as much information as I can to be as ready as possible for next season. I'm really working hard this offseason pushing the guys around me. I think the rest of the guys are really feeling good about next year, and I'm really looking forward to it."
Johnson will need to share his time spent focusing on school and football with college visits in the coming months. He has scheduled trips to North Carolina, N.C. State, Northwestern, Penn State and Tennessee for April.
He has developed relationships with the coaching staffs at the schools that have already offered scholarships to him. Sunday’s visit to Notre Dame stands as his chance to open a better rapport with the Irish.
“I'm looking forward to this weekend,” Johnson said. “I think it's going to be good."
Below are Johnson's sophomore highlights via Hudl.
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