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FAU football: Owls hire offensive coordinator Mike Johnson, dad of QB Michael Johnson Jr.

The Palm Beach Post logo The Palm Beach Post 1/14/2021 Reese Furlow, Special to The Post
Mike Johnson sitting on a table: MSU wide receivers coach Michael Johnson. Mississippi State conducted Media Day on Saturday, August 10, 2019 at the Leo Seal Complex. © Keith Warren, Clarion-Ledger MSU wide receivers coach Michael Johnson. Mississippi State conducted Media Day on Saturday, August 10, 2019 at the Leo Seal Complex.

Florida Atlantic football did not wait long to hire their new co-offensive coordinator, as former NFL coach Mike Johnson will replace Clint Trickett, according to a report from The Athletic's Bruce Feldman.

FAU parted ways with Trickett earlier this month, and Johnson will now join a staff that includes co-offensive coordinator Drew Mehringer and head coach Willie Taggart. He also unites with his son, Michael Johnson Jr., who transferred from Penn State to FAU in December, joining a quarterback squad that struggled in the 2020 season. He will compete with Javion Posey and Nick Tronti for the starting role in 2021.

Along with his co-offensive coordinator role, the elder Johnson will be the quarterbacks coach, a position he's most familiar with during his coaching career. In that role in the NFL, Johnson worked with Jim Harbaugh, Ryan Leaf and Drew Brees while with the San Diego Chargers from 2000-01, Michael Vick while with the Atlanta Falcons from 2003-05, and Alex Smith while with the San Francisco 49ers from 2009-10.

Johnson also spent time as a wide receivers coach in 2002, 2006-07, 2017-18, and 2019. As the wide receivers coach in 2017-18, he worked alongside Taggart while at Oregon, and the Ducks finished top 20 in the nation in points per game (36). 

In 2011, Johnson was the offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach for UCLA and served as the interim coach for the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, a 20-14 loss to Illinois.

The new wide receivers coach is Joey Thomas, who was a defensive analyst for the Owls this past season. Thomas joined the FAU staff last spring after spending eight years as a high school head coach at two different schools. He also briefly worked at Fort Scott (Kan.) Junior College in 2019.

More: Reports: Co-offensive coordinator Clint Trickett, special teams coach Jaron Fairman out at FAU football

More: Florida Atlantic football can 'learn a lot' from season shadowed by COVID-19

Thomas will work with a group of receivers that has several new faces, including Penn State transfer John Dunmore, and early signees Jahmal Edrine and Kobe Stewart. FAU is also bringing back D’Marcus Adams, Jordan Merrell, LaJohntay Wester, BJ Alexander and Brandon Robinson, among others.

On the defensive side, senior linebacker Akileis Leroy and defensive back Zyon Gilbert are returning after the NCAA granted an extra year of eligibility due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Some of the players who will not be returning for the 2021 season include La’Darius Henry, who opted out of the season in September, Terique Owens, Chris Robison, Brandon Spencer, Jaylon Worsham and Charles Toombs. All recently entered the transfer portal.

But despite losing those players, the Owls gained a star running back in Johnny Ford from the University of South Florida. The sophomore announced Tuesday morning that he will be transferring to FAU, where he will join Malcolm Davidson, Larry McCammon III and Kelvin Dean in a depleted running backs group that rushed for 1,217 yards and nine touchdowns in 2020.

Ford did not get much playing time in 2019 and 2020 due to issues he had with coaches, according to the Tampa Bay Times, but in 2018 he finished with 787 yards and eight touchdowns on 115 carries. For his career, Ford has rushed for 1,175 yards and 13 touchdowns on 189 carries, averaging 6.2 yards per carry.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: FAU football: Owls hire offensive coordinator Mike Johnson, dad of QB Michael Johnson Jr.

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