Penn State Quarterback Enters Transfer Portal

Mark Wogenrich

Penn State signed two quarterbacks in its 2019 recruiting class, and both welcomed the competition. But this past weekend, redshirt freshman Michael Johnson Jr. entered the NCAA transfer portal, likely making Ta'Quan Roberson the Lions' No. 3 quarterback entering 2020.

The decision first was reported by Rivals.com.

Johnson Jr. came to Penn State from Oregon, where his father Michael worked as Oregon's receivers coach. He was a three-time team captain at Sheldon High School and was a finalist at the Elite 11 quarterback competition.

Johnson Jr. threw for 7,300 yards and 86 touchdowns as a high school quarterback in California and Oregon. Sheldon High coach Josh Line said in 2018 that Johnson Jr. was "the most physically gifted player I have ever coached."

Johnson Jr. arrived at Penn State with high expectations and a strong relationship with head coach James Franklin. And he didn't expect to feel homesick in State College, having moved plenty as a coach's son.

Johnson Jr. had lived in Oregon twice, along with San Diego, Atlanta, Baltimore and Los Angeles. Most recently, Michael Johnson Sr. was the receivers coach at Mississippi State.

In 2018, Franklin said that he and Michael Johnson Sr. "go way back," having almost worked together with the Atlanta Falcons in the early 2000s.

“I was looking for the best opportunity where I have a coach who makes me a better person off the field as much as he’s going to make me a better player on the field,” Johnson Jr. said prior to the 2019 Under Armour All-America Game in Orlando. “And that’s what coach Franklin has.”

Johnson Jr. did not play last year, while Roberson saw late action against Rutgers.

Johnson Jr.'s decision leaves Penn State with four scholarship quarterbacks on the 2020 roster. Incoming freshman Micah Bowens joins Roberson, Sean Clifford and Will Levis.

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