Quarterback room brings experience, depth to Northwestern Offense
By Sriman Narayanan
That’s the number of years of Power 5 football experience that NU brings to the table from its top-three quarterbacks alone.
Leading the pack is Peyton Ramsey, a graduate transfer from Indiana who shined in the Hoosiers offense last season, earning an All-Big Ten Honorable Mention. His accolades didn’t start last season either — he was named Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year as a redshirt first-year in 2016 and was named to the All-Freshman team as a starter a year later. He started every game in 2018, leading Indiana to five wins.
But it was his 2019 campaign that put Ramsey on the map, an 8-5 year where Ramsey was able to cement himself at first all-time on the Hoosier career completion percentage list. He passed many players to get there, including Trent Green, NFL Pro Bowler and father of TJ Green, Ramsey’s new backup.
Green brings five years at NU to the table. Had he not been sidelined last year to a foot injury, he likely would have started through the season.
Green brings a pocket presence that could definitely work to help Ramsey on the practice field, who has spent much of his career until this point a dual-threat option. Under new offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian, Ramsey should start every game. But if we learned anything from last season, it’s that that can change quickly. Green could safely take the reins if need be.
The third name to mention is junior transfer Hunter Johnson, who as a senior in high school, was ranked the No. 1 QB in his class by ESPN. He began at Clemson, but sat behind Kelly Bryant, and after a loss in the 2017 College Football Playoff and the signing of Trevor Lawrence, he entered the transfer portal and ended up at NU.
Last season was a whirlwind for Johnson, whose lackluster performance left the team reeling. He’s currently expected to be the third quarterback on the depth chart, but don’t count him out yet. If he can realize the potential once seen in him, some movement up the quarterback ranks isn’t out of the question.
Ramsey will likely start week one against Maryland. With experience at all levels of the offense, expect them to improve greatly from last season’s debacle, as returning seniors Riley Lees and Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman will provide some familiarity to a unit under new coaching. With plenty of experience, the Wildcats could make a push for a return to the Top 25 form they displayed in years past.