SALT LAKE CITY — Brian Johnson officially became part of Mississippi State’s coaching staff on Monday. The former Utah quarterback and assistant coach is the Bulldogs’ new quarterbacks coach.
“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,” Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said in a released statement.
Johnson will be surrounded by plenty of familiar faces in Starkville. Mullen and newly named Mississippi State co-offensive coordinators Billy Gonzales and John Hevesy were all Utah assistant coaches under Urban Meyer. All were on the staff when Johnson was Alex Smith’s backup as a true freshman in 2004.
As a starter, Johnson went on to become the winningest quarterback in Utah history with 26 victories. He capped his career as the Most Outstanding Player in the Utes’ 2009 Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama. Johnson was also the Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Year that season.
Johnson had coached Utah’s quarterbacks since 2010 and also served as offensive coordinator in 2012 (the youngest in the country at age 24) and as co-coordinator with Dennis Erickson last season.
After back-to-back 5-7 seasons, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham hired former Wyoming head coach Dave Christensen as offensive coordinator — leaving Johnson as a position coach only.
Before Monday’s official announcement, Johnson released a statement via Twitter: “Thank you for all of the kind words. Utah will always have a special place in my heart. Looking forward to a new opportunity #HailState.”
Whittingham issued a statement on Johnson’s departure, noting that there was no timetable to announce in terms of hiring a replacement.
“We wish Brian all the best in his new position,” Whittingham said. “Brian has been a major contributor to the Utah football program as a player and a coach for many years.”