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5 DAYS TO 2023 KICKOFF: Avery Johnson

In which BracketCat counts down the fifth day until the 2023 kickoff with a profile of Kansas State quarterback Avery Johnson.

#5 Jaren Lewis
Facing limited playing time for the foreseeable future, quarterback Jaren Lewis (5) transferred to Kent State during the offseason. Now the No. 5 jersey will be worn by a considerably more hyped and anticipated quarterback, Avery Johnson.
Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Goal No. 5: BE TOUGH. Mentally and physically.

#5 Avery Johnson

True Freshman | 6-2 | 188 lbs. | Wichita, Kansas
Avery Johnson
Avery Johnson
Courtesy Kansas State Athletics
  • Position: Quarterback
  • Previous College: None
  • Projection: Third-String
  • Status: On Scholarship

Avery Johnson (b. Nov. 2, 2004) is a very highly regarded dual-threat quarterback who plans on majoring in business administration and is already listed as a co-No. 2 player.

Johnson arrived on campus as a mid-year enrollee and participated in spring workouts.

He enters 2023 in a three-way battle with Adryan Lara and Jake Rubley to be Will Howard’s backup. While Rubley has the slight edge in experience, Johnson will still play some in 2023.

His position coach, offensive coordinator Collin Klein, said recently of his young protégé:

It’s pretty amazing to watch a true freshman work has hard as he has to put himself into a position to truly run the offense and compete. He’s done a tremendous job with that. He hasn’t been overwhelmed and has really done some nice things throwing and running the football, so we’re really excited about him.

No less was the encouraging hype from head coach Chris Klieman for the star of his class:

Avery is doing some really, really good things. He plays the game so fast. He knows he’s still learning what we’re doing schematically. He’s learning a lot from Will Howard and Jake, but the one thing, when the ball is snapped, every play is really, really fast.

As he continues to learn our system and the defensive side of things slows down for him, we’re going to continue to see quantum leaps from him. Make no mistake, when he tucks it away and runs, it’s a different speed out there.

With any luck, we can keep his playing time to four games or fewer and preserve a redshirt:

“I tell you what, I feel like the last few years have really slowed my want to even try to project certain situations just because there are so many unknowns. Obviously, we projected (a redshirt) last year with Will,” Klein said. “When I answered that question last year about Will that’s what I said, and obviously the twists and turns of it and how it went down, it worked out how it worked out. Really at this point in time, we’ve got to just ultimately get each of those guys as ready to play as they possibility can and having them understand that it’s about team first — just like Will had to do last year — and we have to put our team into a position to win from the quarterback position. However that shakes out, we’ll try to do what’s in the best interest for each of those kids.”

A Wichita native, Johnson prepped under head coach Gary Guzman at Maize High School, where he was rated the 77th-best player overall in the Class of 2023 by ESPN, while Rivals ranked him as the top dual-threat quarterback in the class.

He also was rated No. 85 overall and No. 9 among quarterbacks by 247Sports and was listed as the top player in the state of Kansas for the Class of 2023 by 247Sports, ESPN, and On3.

Johnson competed in the Elite 11 Finals in the summer of 2022 and was K-State’s first Elite 11 quarterback since Josh Freeman way back in 2005. He was selected to play in the U.S. Army Bowl in Frisco, Texas, in addition to the Under Armour All-America Game in Orlando, Florida.

Johnson also was named the Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year and the MaxPreps Kansas Player of the Year in 2022, and selected as the 2022 Wichita Eagle Offensive Player of the Year in the state of Kansas, while the publication named him to its Top 11 team and as a first-team all-state performer.

He also was named a Top 11 player and first-team all-state performer in 2022 by Sports in Kansas and KHSHAA Covered.

Johnson threw for 2,768 yards and 29 touchdowns with just three interceptions on 153-of-228 aim as a senior, in addition to running for 817 yards and 15 scores on 98 carries, leading the Eagles to a 12-1 record and a sub-state championship in 2022.

He was named the league’s offensive Most Valuable Player as a senior, as well as a first-team all-state performer as a junior from Sports in Kansas and The Wichita Eagle. The latter publication also named him one of the top 11 players in the state in 2021.

Johnson is an elite all-around athlete with vision, accuracy, and speed who also competed in basketball and baseball. Don’t believe me? Just watch his film or listen to his mentor quarterback Will Howard’s praise:

To see some of the progression that he’s made from this spring to this fall is astronomical. He gets it. He’s understanding the game and wants to understand the game more and understand our offense. He’s an incredible athlete, so he makes some crazy plays and crazy throws. He’s about as athletic as they come.

Anytime that dude scrambles, I’m telling Coach Klieman that’s a touchdown right there, nobody is touching him. He’s been very impressive. For the future of K-State football, you’re going to be in good hands.

He selected K-State over an impressive set of offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Iowa State, Kansas, Memphis, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Oregon, Pittsburgh, TCU, Tennessee, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Washington, Washington State and Wisconsin, plus strong interest from LSU.