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The Daily Tar Heel

Transfer quarterback Max Johnson brings experience, knowledge to Chapel Hill

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UNC football quarterback recruit Max Johnson answers questions from the media during a press conference held for transfer recruits on Friday, Feb. 7, 2024 at the Kenan Football Center.

Max Johnson knows what he wants. 

To play under offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey’s offense. To experience collegiate football with his brother. A new set of golf clubs for Christmas. 

Following stints at LSU and Texas A&M, things have become clear for the graduate quarterback. After four years of SEC football, two different programs and 30 total games, Johnson knows what he needs from a program. 

And after talking to UNC head coach Mack Brown, Johnson knew he wanted to become a Tar Heel.

Playing time did not motivate Johnson during the conversation. Instead, he admitted to being struck by one thing: Brown’s endless support for sophomore quarterback Drake Maye. 

Sure, Johnson loved Lindsey’s focus on developing Maye while at UNC, but it all came back to Brown’s unwavering treatment of the former Tar Heel quarterback. 

“Honestly, just the way he talked about Drake was awesome,” Johnson said. “The way he defended him, the way he backed him up, the way he encouraged him [and] the way he just put him on a pedestal.”

With this support system at North Carolina, general manager Patrick Suddes is already seeing Johnson take on a vocal role.

“He’s always out on the field with those guys — [he’s] really embraced the leadership role and trying to bring guys along to go throw,” he said. 

After only seeing the field during 12 games at Texas A&M, Johnson knew he wanted to experience a program where continuous encouragement is the standard — a team where the coaches defend the quarterback from pressure or blame. He could get that support if he became a Tar Heel. 

It also helped that his brother, Jake, wanted to wear Carolina Blue. Following two seasons at Texas A&M, sophomore tight end Jake Johnson decided to transfer to UNC.

The two brothers have gotten to experience the milestones of each other’s football careers. Max watched as Jake settled into the tight end position following stints as a lineman in middle school. They both reached the heights of the Georgia 4A state title game together. Max even threw Jake his first collegiate touchdown at Texas A&M. 

Now, Max is looking forward to the opportunity to create those same memories with Jake at North Carolina.

“I’m excited to kind of grow with him,” Max said. “He’s my best friend so I’m looking forward to it.”

With support from both coaches and his own brother, Johnson wants to make an impact as a quarterback immediately. With an offense that reminds him of his days at LSU, he hopes to use his pro-style type of play and strong arm to make accurate passes and run when needed. Johnson also prides himself on understanding defenses well to make adjustments during gametime decisions. 

“He’s one of the hardest workers I know," Jake Johnson said of his brother, "and I know that he’ll perform just from all the work that he’s put into it and he’s dedicated to the game and really just loves it."

As the Tar Heels prepare to take the field for spring practice, Max Johnson said he is not too worried about the quarterback battle between him and sophomore Conner Harrell. Instead, with his brand new golf clubs, Johnson takes the competition to the links for a friendly round of 18, where Harrell currently has the upper hand. 

With two schools under his belt and only two seasons left to play, Max Johnson wants to enjoy every moment at a program that finally boasts the things he wants from a team. 

“[I want to] keep building these friendships and relationships with the coaches and taking one day at a time,” he said. 

@_emmahmoon

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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