Johnston’s patience during TCU coaching change pays off big

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Quentin Johnston had options when picking his college destination, eventually deciding on TCU because of the two decades of coaching stability provided by Gary Patterson.

Whoops.

The good news is Johnston has learned that unforeseen hurdles aren’t always a bad thing. Patterson surprisingly left TCU late in the 2021 season after 21 years, paving the way for first-year coach Sonny Dykes, who has led the third-ranked Horned Frogs (12-1) to the College Football Playoff semifinals.

They’ll face No. 2 Michigan (13-0) on Saturday at the Fiesta Bowl.

“Obviously, it turned out pretty good,” Johnston said with a grin. “I can’t complain.”

Johnston leads the Horned Frogs with 903 yards receiving and five touchdowns despite a slow start and a midseason ankle injury that limited his production.

The 6-foot-4, 215-pound receiver is expected to be a coveted prize in the upcoming NFL draft. His combination of size, speed and strong hands has some evaluators saying he will be the first receiver drafted and a potential top 10 pick.

On Saturday, he will try to make life miserable for the Wolverines. He is more healthy than he has been for much of the season and he had four catches for 139 yards against Kansas State in the Big 12 championship game on Dec. 3.

One thing teammates love about him: Johnston is decidely low maintenence.

“The kid’s an extremely hard worker and a great person to be around,” quarterback and Heisman Trophy-runner-up Max Duggan said. “He wants to show up and grow to work. He wants to practice. He wants to do all the little stuff and the dirty stuff. He wants to lift weights.

“I think that’s what makes him such a good player. Obviously, we know what he is talent-wise, but the type of person he is makes him special.”

Johnston’s one of a core group of TCU players – including Duggan and cornerback Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson – who decided to stay with the Horned Frogs despite Patterson’s departure. It helped that Dykes had a good reputation around the program because he was an offensive analyst on the 2017 team, which finished with an 11-3 record.

“I was ready from Coach Dykes’ first meeting – sitting right up front,” Johnston said. “Embracing everything and listening to what he had to say. I just kept my mind on TCU football and not who is coaching TCU football.”

Hodges-Tomlinson – also a potential first-round NFL draft pick – said adapting and thriving during a coaching change has been useful and could help in the pros.

“At the end of the day, you have to handle what’s at hand, no matter what comes with it,” Hodges-Tomlinson said. “It happens like that in the NFL. You might get a new coach. You never know. New coordinator or something. So being able to handle change is the main goal.”

Johnston has had a couple mammoth games this season, including 14 receptions for 206 yards and a touchdown against Kansas. One week later, he had eight catches for 180 yards and a touchdown vs. Oklahoma State.

He also had a touchdown catch against Texas in a 17-10 win. Patterson – who is now an assistant coach at Texas – was on the opposing sideline. Johnston said it was strange, particularly when Patterson was doing the “Hook `em Horns” sign, but they’ve stayed in touch.

The receiver said Patterson and his wife texted him after his ankle injury earlier this season, wishing him well.

“It was hard to get mad,” Johnston said. “You can’t stay somewhere forever. Everybody’s time comes to an end, so I just tried to put that in perspective. I just gave him my best wishes and hoped the best for him moving forward.”

The successful transition to Dykes has made moving on much easier. The Horned Frogs were 11-11 during Johnston’s first two seasons under Patterson. Now they’re two wins away from being the national champions.

“To actually make it this far, it’s something that you can’t imagine,” Johnston said. “You can prepare for it, but once you’re here, it’s like, `I’m really here.’

“I worked my butt off for this, but still, you’ve got to sit back and say I’m really here.”

Clemson gives raises, contract extensions to staff

Ken Ruinard/USA TODAY NETWORK
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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson’s board of trustees approved raises for special teams coordinator and cornerbacks coach Mike Reed and defensive tackles coach Nick Eason.

Reed and Eason also received one-year extensions keeping them tied to the Tigers through Jan. 31, 2026.

Reed, who’s been with the Tigers since 2013, had his yearly salary increased $50,000 to $800,000. Eason, the former Clemson standout defensive lineman, joined the staff this past season. He also had his compensation upped by $50,000 to $800,000.

Seven other assistants were given one-year extensions by the trustees’ compensation committee, but without a raise in salary.

Co-defensive coordinators Wes Goodwin and Mickey Conn had their contracts extended through Jan. 31, 2026.

Defensive ends coach Lemanski Hall, tight ends coach Kyle Richardson, offensive line coach Thomas Austin, running backs coach C.J. Spiller and wide receivers coach Tyler Grisham all got one-year extensions through Jan. 31, 2025.

New offensive coordinator Garrett Riley last month received a three-year contract at $1.75 million per season.

Clemson will pay its 10 on-field assistants $7.475 million this season, an increase of $925,000 from the total for 2022.

The Tigers went 11-3 last season, winning the Atlantic Coast Conference title for the seventh time in the past eight seasons.

South Carolina’s Beamer suspends three freshmen from program

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Corey Perrine/USA TODAY NETWORK
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COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina coach Shane Beamer said freshmen Monteque Rhames II, Anthony Rose and Cameron Upshaw were suspended from the football program.

There was no reason given for the suspensions in the school’s statement Friday. Online records showed Rhames, 18, was booked last night and was being held at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center on charges of carrying weapons on school property and obstructing justice.

“Our student-athletes know what is expected of them,” Beamer said. “They know that both the university and the football program will hold them accountable for their actions and decisions.”

None of the three have played for the Gamecocks.

Rose is a 6-foot-1, 190-pound defensive back from Miami who enrolled in January 2022 and redshirted this season. Rhames and Upshaw were part of South Carolina’s latest recruiting class and enrolled last month.

Rhames is a 6-5, 235-pound defensive lineman from Sumter and Upshaw is a 6-2, 193-pound safety from Perry, Florida.