Florida loses offensive coordinator Brian Johnson to NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles

By Adam Silverstein
January 27, 2021
Florida loses offensive coordinator Brian Johnson to NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles
Football

Image Credit: UAA

Florida Gators offensive coordinator Brian Johnson, an up-and-coming name in coaching circles who put together a stellar campaign, will leave the college ranks after agreeing to become the new quarterbacks coach for the Philadelphia Eagles, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Johnson will be the third assistant that head coach Dan Mullen must replace ahead of next season.

Elevated to offensive coordinator entering the 2020 season, Johnson worked with Mullen to oversee one of the greatest offensive performances in program history. Johnson has served as the Gators QB coach since joining the team ahead of the 2018 campaign and played a significant role in the development of Kyle Trask, who became a Heisman Trophy finalist and set a ton of program records this season.

Johnson, 33, was the first Black offensive coordinator in Florida football history.

Prior to Johnson’s ascension, wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales and offensive line coach John Hevesy served as co-offensive coordinators. Gonzales and Hevesy reacquiring those titles and responsibilities is a distinct possibility with Mullen likely to hire a QB coach to fill Johnson’s positional role.

Where this will particularly hurt the Gators is recruiting. Johnson was arguably the best recruiter on Mullen’s staff and was ranked 19th in the 247Sports recruiter rankings for the 2021 cycle.

Consistently mentioned as a top candidate for college head coaching opportunities this offseason, Johnson notably interviewed for the South Carolina and Boise State jobs but was not a finalist for either. He was being thrown around as an early candidate for the UCF gig that opened Wednesday.

Instead, Johnson will take a step down in title to make a move to the NFL where he will help manage a quarterback room that includes rookie standout Jalen Hurts and veteran Carson Wentz.

Mullen coached Johnson at Utah, and Johnson remained there as a QB coach in 2010 at age 22. He made a quick rise to offensive coordinator at Utah, replacing Lincoln Riley under head coach Kyle Whittingham, before rejoining Mullen as QB coach at Mississippi State (2014-16). After one year as Houston’s offensive coordinator in 2017, Johnson returned to Mullen’s side.

Johnson’s boss spent much of the 2020 season singing his praises and noting that he would be a head coach soon. For that reason, it is unexpected that he is leaving the Gators for an assistant job in the NFL, though Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel reports that the opportunity to coach in the league “intrigued” Johnson. It is not unusual for QB coaches in the NFL to ascend into head coaching roles.

Mullen fired both of his secondary coaches this offseason and had just completed his staff by hiring veteran Wesley McGriff as safeties coach along with Jules Monitar as cornerbacks coach and recruiting coordinator. Now, he suddenly has another position to fill.

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