MISSISSIPPI STATE FINALIZES FOOTBALL COACHING STAFF FOR 2014 SEASON
Johnson, the winningest quarterback in Utah history and current
quarterbacks coach for the Utes, has been named quarterbacks coach at
Mississippi State, head coach Dan Mullen announced on Monday.
also announced that Billy Gonzales and John Hevesy have been promoted
to co-offensive coordinators. Greg Knox will serve as special teams
coordinator in addition to running backs coach. Mullen will continue to
call plays on gameday.
“I’ve known Brian since I
recruited him at Utah, and he is an excellent fit to our staff with his
experience and knowledge of the quarterback position,” said Mullen.
“Along with Brian’s addition, Billy and John will continue to develop
our offense, which was the most explosive in school history last
season. Greg is well respected and has over 20 years of coaching
experience that will enhance our special teams production. We are
thrilled about the staff we have in place. The 2014 season promises to
be an exciting one for our team and fans.”
Johnson, who turns
age 27 on Sunday, comes to Starkville after spending the past four
seasons as an assistant coach at Utah, including one season as the
offensive coordinator and one season as the co-offensive coordinator.
He coached quarterbacks since joining the staff in 2010. A rising star
in the coaching profession, Johnson became the youngest NCAA FBS
offensive coordinator in the nation at age 24 on Feb. 2, 2011.
fast ascension in coaching has been nothing new for the Baytown, Texas,
product. Mullen, then the quarterbacks coach at Utah, signed Johnson to
a National Letter of Intent at just 16 years old in 2004. Johnson went
on to play in 10 games as a true freshman backup to Heisman Trophy
finalist Alex Smith during Utah's 12-0 Fiesta Bowl season.
next spring, he became Utah's starting quarterback at age 17. In
January 2010, a year after breaking the school record for wins by a
starting quarterback (26), Johnson accepted a position as Utah's
Two years in that role was enough time to
convince head coach Kyle Whittingham to appoint Johnson as the new
offensive coordinator. In 2013, Johnson had the opportunity to work
alongside former three-time Pac-10 Conference Coach of the Year Dennis
Erickson as co-offensive coordinator.
Each of Johnson's first
three seasons was defined injuries at the quarterback position. Starter
Jordan Wynn was injured for part or most of every season and Johnson
inserted three different replacements from 2010-12. In both 2010 and
2011, Utah recovered to earn a bowl bid (Las Vegas Bowl and Sun Bowl).
an eye to the future, Johnson anointed true freshman Travis Wilson the
starting quarterback for the final seven games of the 2012 season. He
also turned to the run game, implementing a game plan that allowed
senior John White to net 1,041 yards and become the first Ute ever to
produce back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. Utah led the Pac-12 in time of
possession, holding the ball an average of 32:07 a game.
player, Johnson was a three-year starter and a two-time bowl most
valuable player. He set the school mark for victories by a starting
quarterback, finishing his career with a 26-7 record. A finalist for
the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm and the Manning awards as a senior in
2008, Johnson captained Utah to the best record in school history
(13-0) and a Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama. The Sugar Bowl MVP tossed
for 336 yards and three touchdowns in leading the Utes to a dominant
31-17 win over the fourth-ranked Tide.
Both Gonzales and
Hevesy were instrumental in guiding MSU to a record-setting offensive
campaign in 2013. The Bulldogs shattered school records in total yards
(5,647), yards per game (434.4) and first downs (305) while playing one
of the nation’s top-five toughest schedules.
coordinator, Gonzales will serve as passing game coordinator and
continue to coach the wide receivers. He is no stranger to that role
after spending the 2012 season as co-offensive coordinator at Illinois
and two seasons as the passing game coordinator at LSU from 2010-11.
just completed his fifth season as MSU running game coordinator and
offensive line coach. He developed offensive guard Gabe Jackson into an
All-American in each of the past two seasons. Jackson is widely
regarded as one of the top guard prospects in the nation heading into
the 2014 NFL Draft.
Knox has 15 years of Southeastern
Conference coaching experience, including the past three seasons
molding MSU into one of the top run-game units in the league.