TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston came into the season as a trendy name to watch, especially for NFL draft Twitter followers.
More eyes were on the 6-foot-4 Johnston after last season when he had 634 receiving yards and averaged more than 19 yards per catch. The expectation was Johnston would build on those numbers and solidify himself as a high draft pick for the 2023 draft.
Things haven’t quite gone as planned yet through the first quarter of the season. Johnston leads the team in receptions with eight, but ranks sixth on the Horned Frogs iin yards and he has yet to find the endzone.
Despite the slow start, Johnson said he isn’t discouraged. He said he has focused on how his teammates have thrived around him during TCU’s 3-0 start.
“I’m not to upset with it. At the end of the day I’m getting doubled a lot, it obviously opens up a lot more opportunities for my teammates,” Johnston said. “We’ve been getting more receivers the ball and we’re winning with that so I’m happy.”
Johnston admitted he had a little frustration after just having three catches against Colorado in the season opener. The slow start plus the injury to Chandler Morris and the running game all played apart in that. After the game, Johnston realized that there was nothing to be upset about.
“After that I was like ‘Man we won and other people are getting the ball.’ I’m happy with everything that’s going on,” Johnston said.
Just as TCU fans heard all the chatter about Johnston’s talent and potential, so did opposing defensive coordinators. So far teams have gone out of their way to double Johnston and take him out the game.
They’ve been successful, but it’s opened the door for other players to thrive like Derius Davis, who leads the team in receiving yards and total touchdowns.
“It’s been amazing to see. From the time I came in he’s been one of those leaders that everybody looks up to. He shows us everyday on the field and off the field why we should continue to look up to him. It’s a big motivator for all of us seeing him take the ball and run 80 yards, running 23 miles per hour (vs. SMU). He fuels the fire to our flame,” Johnston said.
The slow start has taught Johnston patience and it’s also helped him gain an even greater appreciation to celebrating in his teammates’ success.
For example, against SMU, Savion Williams caught the first touchdown from Max Duggan and Johnston was the first one to celebrate with one of his closet friends on the roster.
“It would look bad on me if he scored and I’m just like, ah it wasn’t me and just walk off. That’s been my guy since we got here, but we’ve been talking about moments like that since we got here. To see all that coming into play is just an overwhelming feeling for me,” Johnston said. “I’m excited for him and told him after that, we’re excited now, but there’s more to come.”
The impact those type of encouraging words impact more than just Williams. As one of the leaders of the team, players are watching how Johnston responds in those moments.
He’s blown away his teammates with his leadership like Max Duggan.
“That’s the great thing about Q, his attitude and care about the game. There’s a lot of guys out there when they get those preseason awards that Q has, if things don’t go his way, all the social media stuff, people get into their own heads and do things they don’t usually do,” Duggan said. “Like going after their teammates and saying get me the ball, getting after the coaches. Q’s never done that one time.”
Tight end Jared Wiley is another who has appreciated how Johnston has handled the slow start and supported his fellow receivers.
“It’s unreal. It speaks to our maturity as a team. You see Savion score this past weekend and Q is the first one to him. I think that speaks volumes to the type of leader he is and the type of teammate he is to everybody else,” Wiley said.
Wiley is another who has found early success with so much attention on Johnston. He’s tied with Davis with a team-high two receiving touchdowns.
Three other players including Williams, Jordan Hudson and Quincy Brown have also caught touchdown passes. It would be easy to lament not being on that list, but Johnston’s maturity has allowed him to understand that the only way for the double teams to stop is for those around him to continue to excel.
“He cares about winning, he cares about the team. Whatever he can do to help, he’s going to do,” Duggan said. “I need to do a better job of getting him the ball, getting him involved. We’re going to get that sorted out, I’m not worried about Q. He’s going to be just fine.”
The Horned Frogs have come close to hitting on a few plays like a deep shot to Johnston against SMU when he caught, but was out of bounds. He said moments are those are reminders for him to continue to work on his craft.
If you want the ball, you have to work to put yourself in better situations.
“That’s me with some technique stuff I need to clean up. I get so excited about a go route I run straight to the sideline instead of getting back on top and stacking, which I should obviously know that, but you’re going to see a better version of that moving forward,” Johnston said. “The coaches said they’re going to keep coming back to me with the deep balls and next time I’m going to be inbounds for sure.”
With No. 18 Oklahoma rolling into town Saturday would be an ideal time for that deep ball connection to get on track.