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Steelers Invite Clemson QB, former 5-Star Recruit to Rookie Minicamp



Steelers Clemson Hunter Johnson

The Pittsburgh Steelers have invited former Clemson and Northwestern quarterback Hunter Johnson to their rookie minicamp, according to a report by Greg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star.

Johnson was a five-star prospect coming out of Brownsburg (Ind.) High School, but was the third-string quarterback behind Kelly Bryant and Derrick Cooper in his freshman season with the Tigers in 2017. 

With Trevor Lawrence coming in for the 2018 season, Johnson transferred from Clemson to Northwestern, sitting out the 2018 season due to the NCAA transfer rules at the time.

He battled Aiden Smith for playing time in 2019, but neither player impressed. Johnson played in six games, completing 46.3% of his passes, and had one touchdown and four interceptions for a 75.5 passer rating.

In 2020, the Wildcats brought in graduate transfer Peyton Ramsey and Johnson didn’t play at all. In 2021, he won a three-way battle to start in training camp and played better than he had in 2019, completing 45 of 75 (60%) for 424 yards, four touchdowns and four interception in there games for a 114.4 passer rating. But he was benched for South Carolina transfer Ryan Hilinski, who finished the season with worse numbers.

Johnson figured his football career was over and applied to Clemson’s master’s program without attempting to secure a role on the football team. When he asked coach Dabo Swinney about becoming a graduate assistant coach, Swinney insisted he play out his final season of eligibility as Clemson’s backup.

In 2022, Johnson played in just two games for the Tigers, completing all six passes for 10 yards. Still, he completed his pro day with solid numbers and impressed enough at a recent Indianapolis Colts tryout to get a call from Pittsburgh.

The Steelers have just three quarterbacks on their active roster, with starer Kenny Pickett joined by backup Mitch Trubisky and recent UDFA signing Tanner Morgan out of Minnesota.

The club has traditionally entered OTAs with four quarterbacks on the roster, and has pulled players to the 90-man list from rookie minicamp in the very recent past. Three players earned contracts from rookie camp in 2022 and quarterback Devlin Hodges found his way all the way to the starting lineup from a rookie camp invite in 2019.

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