By JOEL COLEMAN
The man who helped develop two of the most successful quarterbacks in Mississippi State history is leaving the program.
MSU quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson was named the new offensive coordinator at the University of Houston on Tuesday. Johnson leaves after three years at Mississippi State in which he polished the abilities of former Bulldogs quarterback Dak Prescott and helped usher in a new MSU signal caller in Nick Fitzgerald.
Under Johnson’s guidance, Prescott led the Southeastern Conference in total offense in 2014. Fitzgerald accomplished the feat this season.
Prescott, now one of the National Football League’s Rookie of the Year favorites as the Dallas Cowboys starting quarterback, said Johnson was incredibly valuable to getting him to where he is today.
“(Johnson) was unbelievable and I’m very thankful to have him as a coach,” Prescott said. “Once I got the offense down, he took me to another level and his knowledge of the game was invaluable. It meant a lot to have someone who has played at such a high level be able to teach you. You look at the success he had with his undefeated season at Utah and you know he can back up what he is teaching. He’s also a great guy who pushes you to be a better person in the community and academically. I’m very proud of him.”
In Johnson’s three seasons in Starkville, Mississippi State was second in the SEC in total offense and passing offense after finishing ninth and seventh, respectively, in the year prior to his arrival. MSU went to a bowl game in each of Johnson’s three seasons.
Johnson was also an accomplished quarterback himself. As a player at Utah, Johnson was a three-year starter and set the school record for victories by a starting quarterback. For his career, Johnson passed for 7,853 yards and 57 touchdowns. He also rushed for 848 yards and 12 scores.
Following his playing career, Johnson became Utah’s quarterbacks coach. After two seasons in that role, he was promoted to offensive coordinator. He then arrived at Mississippi State prior to the 2014 campaign.