Northwestern Quarterback Competition?
A QB Competition at NU
What’s up y’all? It’s ChiSoxJonda back again with a once in a blue moon blog post! This is actually subject to change in the near future, thanks to my newest acquisition, a 2018 MacBook Air, to say I’m hyped would be an ABSOLUTE fricken understatement. Most Northwestern fans are already aware of QB Hunter Johnson. The Brownsburg, Indiana Native would have ranked as the highest Northwestern recruit of all time had he committed to NU straight out of high school. However, he did not, Johnson originally committed to Clemson ranking in as the No. 2 QB prospect in the class of ’17 according to 247sports behind Davis Mills (Stanford..). Johnsons brother, Cole was a key special teams contributor from 2013-2016 for Pat Fitzgerald’s ‘Cats earning “practice player of the week” 6 times throughout his tenure at NU. The pedigree is there, so why has Johnson not been named Northwestern’s starting QB for week 1 yet?
Enter this guy..
TJ Green, son of former Pro Bowler Trent Green. TJ Green has the prototypical build of a D1 Quarterback measuring in at 6’2″ 215 lbs and has been a member of Mick McCalls QB room since 2015 when he walked on at NU then subsequently redshirted his freshman year. So why is a walk-on standing in between Hunter Johnson, a 5-star recruit and an opening game start against Stanford? I’m going to tell you why.
1. TJ Green Has in Game Experience Already at NU
Last Season TJ Green appeared in 4 of NU’s 14 games, the first game in which I actually attended as a member of the press. TJ was shaky early on, and was called on frequently due to starting QB Clayton Thorson coming off of a torn ACL just 8 months prior in NU’s 2017 season finale against Kentucky. However, as the game progressed TJ gained confidence within his own game and it shows here in his response to my question on how he gained comfortability throughout the game, take a look.
As you heard there from Green himself, aside from the delay of game penalty that he experienced in his first play (Ross Ade Stadium was quite loud that evening) TJ settled in nicely to the tune of 7-11 for 63 yards. Albeit not the prettiest stat line.. but that isn’t exactly the point. The fact of the matter is TJ Green has been in NU’s system almost FOUR years longer than Hunter Johnson.. I’m not going to lie I almost just tried to abbreviate Hunter Johnson’s name.. (HJ) and lets just say I have never smashed the backspace button quicker.
2. A Source Close to OnTapSportsNet Told Me the Competition is Still WIDE Open.
Northwestern’s Football team completed its spring practices in early April. When Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald met with the media at the conclusion of those practices members of the media had questioned him about his starting QB. Fitz went on to say “Hunter and TJ will split reps with the first team throughout the summer. We like what we see out of both these young men. It won’t be easy to replace Clayton, but we want a leader who knows the offense at the helm, and we won’t rush anything.” Not only is this an excerpt from an already existing (SB Nation) article, it’s SO Fitz. Think about it, Pat Fitzgerald has gone through more than a few QB transitions throughout his tenure at NU.. he probably already knows exactly what is going to happen come August 31st against Stanford University, however, he is notorious for not wanting the media to know his game plan. This is the same coach that listed “Clayton Thorson OR TJ Green” on his 2 deep for the better half of last season. That finally brings me to my actual point, this spring I spoke with somebody within the program and they told me “this really is a quarterback competition, I wouldn’t be surprised if TJ started week one” first of all, a true gentleman doesn’t kiss and tell. Although the source is 100% credible at this point in time it’s all speculation. If it were up to myself I would attack the Stanford defense with a similar gameplan that NU ran against Purdue last season, using both quarterbacks.
3. Who Would You Rather See?
I realize that to this point I not only seem like a TJ Green fanboy, I seem like I think he is going to start week 1.. which is NOT true. As a matter of fact, I think it plays out just like this, Johnson will get the first series with the offense and if it does not result in at least 3 points, expect to see Green the next time around. Obviously, the situation is entirely different compared to last year, Thorson came into the year questionable and Johnson (to this point) is healthy. Green potentially could have transferred to another school being a redshirt senior, however, he did not. In my honest opinion TJ not transferring is not only a vote of confidence he’s giving himself, its something that shows the NU faithful that he believes in the bigger picture. Coming off of their first ever Big Ten title game, NU has some lofty expectations not only from the fanbase but from within the program. So I pose the question to you the reader, who would you rather see the first offensive series? If you answered “to be honest I don’t know” I’m with you.
To wrap this up (I know so soon), I want to take this time to inform you all that in the near future OnTapSportsNet will have an NU/Illini podcast and it is going to be informative and funny so “look out for that”. Other than that I know I typically go crazy with the trucker mouth in my articles, so if you were looking for that I apologize.. I felt as if I had to keep it as professional as possible on my Northwestern blogs (don’t want to piss any alumni off). That being said, moving forward.. these pieces will probably be super opinionated and slightly informal, but then again that’s why its called a blog!
Until next time,
(Feature Photo / Chicago Tribune)