Jake Johnson, a sophomore quarterback, has announced his retirement from football due to accumulated concussions. CM Life, a student newspaper at CMU, first reported the news.
Johnson served as Rush’s primary backup in the 2016 campaign and was the only true quarterback not named Cooper Rush to get on the passing statline. Johnson saw time against Presbyterian and UNLV this season but did not collect stats.
Johnson has a history of concussions dating back to high school, missing four games due to a concussion in his senior year and suffering another one in his return game. Johnson left the Presbyterian game with a concussion.
Johnson, a native of DeWitt, Michigan, was expected to battle for the starting quarterback spot this season after the departure of four-year starter Rush.
This leaves a massive question mark at the position going into the 2017 season, a situation that isn’t helped by offensive coordinator/QB coach Gino Guidugli reportedly leaving for Cincinnati.
CMU’s quarterback roster currently has three players from the 2016 returning in redshirt freshman Tony Poljan, sophomore Austin Hergott and JUCO transfer Tommy Lazzaro. Shane Morris, a former Michigan Wolverine under Jim Harbaugh, grad transferred to CMU in the offseason.
Most prognosticators expect Morris to win the job coming out of fall camps, as he is the most experienced of the remaining options at the FBS level, throwing for approximately 500 yards at Michigan. The prevailing theory here is that you plug in an experienced starter and hope to find a ore permanent solution down the road. Morris was a former four-star recruit that just might see a return of his mojo if given an opportunity.
That’s not a bad gamble considering the last Michigan-based grad transfer, Thomas Rawls, worked well for the Chips.
However, there are some that believe that Poljan can take the starting position out of camp. Coach Bono and his staff have been high on Poljan’s abilities and he was considered the crown jewel of Coach Bono’s first signing class. Traditionally, CMU thrives with quarterbacks that start young. Dan LeFevour, Ryan Radcliffe and Rush were all starters for three seasons or longer. Poljan, a three/four star recruit, took CMU’s offer as a QB over multiple Power Five offers to play tight end or defensive end.
Lazzaro and Hergott are also options for the Chips and will get their chances in spring and fall camps, but it’s largely a race between Poljan and Morris unless something unforeseen happens.
CMU’s spring game is April 22, so perhaps then is when we’ll get our first glimpse of the quarterback situation.