By Logan Lowery
STARKVILLE – Dan Mullen finalized his coaching staff at Mississippi State with a familiar face.
Former Utah quarterback Brian Johnson, who Mullen signed and coached for one year, has joined the Bulldogs’ staff as their 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,” Mullen said in a release from the university.
Johnson has spent the past four seasons at his alma mater. The 26-year old coached the Utes quarterbacks from 2010-11 before adding offensive coordinator duties in 2012. This past season Johnson served as Utah’s co-offensive coordinator along with veteran coach Dennis Erickson.
Mullen originally signed Johnson as a 16-year old two-star prospect from Baytown, Texas, and coached him in 10 games as a true freshman behind Alex Smith. Johnson went on to be a three-year starter for the Utes and holds the school record with 26 wins as a starting quarterback.
Johnson was the Most Valuable Player of the 2007 Poinsettia Bowl and 2009 Sugar Bowl, the 2008 Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year and cover athlete of the EA Sports video game NCAA Football 10.
Johnson (@BDJohnson3) tweeted Monday afternoon “Thank you for all the kind words. Utah will always have a special place in my heart. Looking forward to a new opportunity #HailState”.
Johnson fills the position vacated by Les Koenning, who left Mullen’s staff after five seasons to become the wide receivers coach at his alma mater, Texas, on Jan. 15.
Johnson’s addition created a ripple effect for the rest of Mullen’s staff. Offensive line coach John Hevesy and wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales will now share the title as MSU’s co-offensive coordinator. Greg Knox will assume Mullen’s special teams coordinator role in addition to his responsibilities as running backs coach.
Hevesy has been in Starkville since Mullen’s arrival while also serving as run game coordinator, while Gonzales was added to the mix in 2013. Both Hevesy and Gonzales worked along aside Mullen as assistants at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida. Knox has been the Bulldogs’ running backs coach since the 2009 season.
Mullen had handled the Bulldogs special teams duties for five years and will continue to call offensive plays on game days.
“Billy and John will continue to develop our offense, which was the most explosive in school history last season,” Mullen said. “Greg is well respected and has over 20 years of coaching experience that will enhance our special teams production. We are thrilled about the staff we have in place. The 2014 season promises to be an exciting one for our team and fans.”
Gonzales was the co-offensive coordinator at Illinois in 2012, passing game coordinator at LSU from 2010-11 and special teams coordinator at Utah from 2003-04.
Knox last coached special teams at Stephen F. Austin, along with wide receivers, from 1992-94.