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Northwestern's Wide Receiver Room is Developing an "Explosive" Connection with Hunter Johnson

The starting QB is already starting to form chemistry with his wide receivers.

After losing three top receivers that accounted for approximately 61 percent of their passing yards, Northwestern’s offense is in a precarious position. Factor in Cam Porter’s injury and the impact it will have on the Wildcats’ running game and you might even change precarious to another, less optimistic adjective.

Despite the production that they’re losing, the coaching staff is encouraged by the potential of the current roster. “ You just move on to the next group,” wide receiver coach Dennis Springer said. “It's a great opportunity for a lot of guys in the wide receiver room.”

The coaching staff also believes that the QB decision being made so early will help the offense in the long run. What else could help the offense click from the get-go? It might sound cliche, but the coaching staff has stressed off-the-field bonding and how that can translate to on-field chemistry. “It's always just the investment of time,” Bajakian said “It's not easy to necessarily do that in the setting of practice.”

Starting quarterback Hunter Johnson echoed that sentiment in his media session with reporters saying, “Having a meal, enjoying each other's company (can really help). And just being around each other, and then, during the offseason we were throwing together constantly. We're hanging out off the field constantly. It's not very hard, especially with this program, this culture, to develop good relationships.”

That off-the-field connection is already present between Johnson and sophomore wide receiver Bryce Kurtz, who were teammates back in high school, and it has translated to some highlight-level plays in practice. “Hunter and Bryce Kurtz grew up together. They went to the same high school, they played together before, so they obviously got that connection,” sophomore cornerback Brandon Joseph said. “There was the bomb that I saw, it literally went from the 45, all the way to the other side.”

“It's been fun,” Johnson said of playing with Kurtz. “It's not very often that you get to play with (someone on) a high school team and college ball, so yeah having that chemistry has been great,” Johnson said of the connection.

Another wideout everyone has had their eyes on during training camp is Stephon Robinson and according to coach Springer, he’s been a great addition to the wide receiver room. Springer said Robinson has done a good job learning the offense on the fly and has also embraced a leadership role on the team.

Johnson was even more effusive in his praise for the former Kansas Jayhawk.“He is a technician with his routes,” Johnson said. “I think he does a great job setting guys up and getting open. He's a good athlete, he goes out every day, works hard and has a good mindset. I'm really excited about him.”

Overall, despite losing so much of their production from last season, Johnson believes the offense will be more than ready against Michigan State. “I think we're going to be pretty explosive,” he said. “We've got a lot of talented guys that can catch and run after the catch, and we got some guys out of the backfield that can make plays.”


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