(STATS) - One of the starting quarterbacks from the inaugural FCS Kickoff in 2014 has basically blazed a trail for a player to leave the level as a graduate transfer.
Now former Eastern Washington All-American Vernon Adams III is being joined by the other starting quarterback in that game - Sam Houston State's Jared Johnson, the Southland Conference's 2015 offensive player of the year.
Bearkats coach K.C. Keeler told the Huntsville Item that Johnson has decided to leave the program. Having graduated this past December, he is immediately eligible to play his final season elsewhere as a graduate transfer - presumably on the FBS level.
"He's been just tremendous for our football program," Keeler said. "He was a two-time captain, a great student and a great ambassador. We wish him well. He's already graduated and has an opportunity to go to whatever level he wants to go to."
Johnson took over as Sam Houston's starter in the 2014 FCS Kickoff, when Sam Houston lost 56-35 to Eastern Washington. His counterpart, Adams, left the EWU program last year to spend his final season at Oregon.
The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Johnson, a mobile dual-threat, started each of the past two seasons and helped the Bearkats advance to the FCS national semifinals each year.
However, despite having an outstanding regular season as a junior, the Grand Prairie, Texas, native shared playing time with Jeremiah Briscoe, a pro-style QB who is perhaps a better fit for Keeler's style of offense. When Johnson struggled in the postseason, he was pulled in favor of Briscoe against Southern Utah and McNeese State, and Briscoe started subsequent games against Colgate and Jacksonville State.
Johnson leaves Sam Houston third in career passing yards (5,352), second in total offense (6,953) and in completions (433), and tied for second in touchdown passes (39).
Briscoe, a transfer from UAB last year, takes over as the junior starter after throwing for 1,883 yards and 14 touchdowns in 14 games.