LSU QB Max Johnson enters transfer portal

With Max Johnson entering the transfer portal, QB Garrett Nussmeier could get his first career start vs. Kansas St. in the Texas Bowl. However, Nussmeier will have to burn his redshirt if he plays.

LSU second-year freshman quarterback Max Johnson announced Tuesday night that he’s entering the transfer portal. The southpaw will have three years of eligibility remaining at his next school.

Let’s start with a hat tip to Johnson for not including the phrase, “With that being said,” like every other declaration of a de-commitment or portal entry.

Johnson started the final two games of the 2020 season as a true freshman, leading the Tigers to a 37-34 upset win at Florida as 23.5-point road underdogs and a 53-48 home win over Ole Miss as 1.5-point ‘dogs. He finished the year with a 58.7 completion percentage, 1,069 passing yards and an 8/1 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

Johnson went into camp back in August as the favorite to win the starting job. He had competition from Myles Brennan, who had started the first three games in 2020 and threw for 1,112 yards before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury. However, Brennan sustained a season-ending hand injury in August, leaving Johnson as LSU’s only QB with any experience.

He started all 12 games, connecting on 225-of-373 throws (60.3%) for 2,814 yards with a 27/6 TD-INT ratio. Johnson led LSU to back-to-back home wins over ULM and Texas A&M to get bowl eligible and finish the regular season with a 6-6 record. He had 306 passing yards and three TDs without an interception against the Aggies, throwing a game-winning, 28-yard TD pass to Jaray Jenkins with 20 seconds remaining.

LSU is set to face Kansas St. on Jan. 4 in Houston at the Texas Bowl. With Hurricane Ida bearing down on Louisiana in late August, the Tigers went to Houston for five days and even practiced at NRG Stadium in preparation for their season opener at UCLA.

LSU has only faced the Wildcats once, beating them 21-0 in 1980. The Tigers will presumably turn to true freshman QB Garrett Nussmeier to make his first career start.

Nussmeier played in four games this year, though, so he’ll have to burn his redshirt if he starts the bowl game. Otherwise, the Tigers will have to go with a walk-on QB. Nussmeier has completed 29-of-57 passes (50.9%) for 329 yards and two TDs with two interceptions.

Most books opened LSU as a 2.5-point favorite vs. Kansas St. The line was down to -2 before Johnson’s announcement last night. Since then, most spots have moved LSU to -1 or pick ’em.

We should note that Kansas St. QB Skyar Thompson is injured, but there is optimism that he’ll be ready to return to practice in the next couple of weeks.

Johnson is the son of Brad, who played basketball for Pat Kennedy and football for Bobby Bowden at Florida St. in the 1990s, and then went on to play for the Vikings and Buccaneers. He was Tampa Bay’s starting QB when it routed the Raiders in the Super Bowl in January of 2003.

With that in mind, you would think that FSU could be a potential landing spot for Johnson. Johnson chose LSU out of high school over offers from FSU, Miami, Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina.

Jake Johnson, a four-star TE who was a verbal commit to LSU, announced his de-commitment from the Tigers last night. He has re-opened his recruitment with plans to be an early enrollee next month.

LSU WR Deion Smith also announced Tuesday that he’s entering the portal. As a true freshman this season, Smith had 11 receptions for 186 yards and two TDs.

Six LSU players have entered the portal since Ed Orgeron was relieved of his duties as head coach.

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