EVANSTON – The suspense of waiting up until the week of the game or maybe even hours before kickoff won’t be there for fans of Northwestern as they approach the 2021 season opener against Michigan State on September 3rd.
Pat Fitzgerald decided that Tuesday would be the time to name his starting quarterback to begin the team’s Big Ten West title defense.
Senior Hunter Johnson was named the starting quarterback to start the 2021 season, with the team making the announcement official just after noon on Tuesday. He beat out South Carolina transfer Ryan Hilinski along with Andrew Marty for the starting role.
Johnson, a native of Brownsburg, Indiana, won back the job that he got to start the 2019 season when he was first eligible to play for the Wildcats after sitting out the 2018 campaign following his transfer from Clemson.
In that first year, he played in six games and started five as Northwestern struggled to a 3-9 record. Johnson was 50-for-108 with one touchdown passing compared to four interceptions while also rushing for a touchdown in 2019.
With transfer Peyton Ramsey winning the job in 2020 then holding onto it for the remainder of the pandemic-altered season, Johnson saw action in just two games.
While picking a quarterback was the positive of Tuesday, the team suffered two setbacks as running back Cam Porter along with offensive lineman Zachary Franks were ruled out for the year with lower-body injuries.
The sophomore running back gained a team-high 333 yards in his first season and scored five touchdowns with a 4.1 yards per carry average. Porter was expected to be a major part of Northwestern’s running attack during the 2021 season.
Franks, a redshirt sophomore, appeared in a reserve role in eight of the nine Wildcats’ games in 2020.