New Eagles OC's 20 Year Story with Jalen Hurts

July 13, 2023

Athlete Studio

When going through the process of becoming Philadelphia Eagles new offensive coordinator, Brian Johnson kept his long standing relationship with the Hurts family confidential so that there wouldn't be any questions about his qualifications for the position.

Without any previous connections to newly appointed Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni or then-offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, Johnson interviewed for the quarterbacks coaching position in January 2021. 

Their first encounter took place as they entered the NovaCare practice facility together that day. Surprisingly, during their extensive eight-hour conversation about football, he never disclosed that he had known Hurts, the Eagles' second-round draft pick in 2020, since their preschool years. He never disclosed his close relationship with the entire Hurts family, being coached by Jalen's father, Averion, during his high school quarterback days, recruiting Hurts to join him at Mississippi State and later at the University of Florida, and being among the first to recognize Jalen's exceptional talent that others might have overlooked.

Once Johnson secured the position, he spoke about his close relationship with the superstar quarterback and his family.

"I didn't want to really put that out there, I remember I called him when I got the job, and he was like, 'What?!'" Johnson said.

Johnson's coaching prowess has propelled him into the spotlight, making him one of the biggest OC names in the industry. Numerous teams tried for the opportunity to interview the 36-year-old for their open offensive coordinator positions during the offseason. Eventually, Johnson secured the esteemed role in Philadelphia as the previous coordinator, Shane Steichen, departed to lead the Indianapolis Colts' coaching staff.

"He's going to be a star one day. He's going to be a big-time head coach one day," Hurts said during the lead-up to the Super Bowl. "Hopefully we can keep him here as long as we possibly can, but nonetheless I'm proud of him and it's definitely just the beginning for the both of us."

Johnson's long standing relationship with Hurts, date all the way back to when Hurts was 5 years old running around the athletic facilities at Robert E. Lee High School in Baytown, Texas.

During the early 2000s, when Johnson was a student and quarterback for the school, Hurts' father, Averion, served as the defensive line coach. Averion also supervised the weightlifting program over the summer, where he would frequently bring his sons, Jalen and his older brother Averion Jr., to join him at the gym.

Once Johnson joined the coaching space with teams like, Mississippi State, Houston and Florida, he eventually made his way back to visit the Hurts family when he was on a recruiting trip. Getting to see Hurts, now in high school, Johnson knew there was something special about him.

"I didn't even recognize him," he said. "This big, strapping dude with these big, long dreads comes out [of the weight room] and I was like, 'Who is this kid?' '[Someone] said, 'That's J.' I was like, 'No way.' The J I remembered was a little kid."

While Johnson never did get the opportunity to recruit Hurts throughout his college career, there was a big effort made on his end to re-unite with Hurts and bring him on to both University of Florida and Mississippi State. While he wasn't able to lockdown the college version of Hurts, perhaps it was all meant to be as Johnson was quoted telling Hurts "I genuinely want you to be successful.".

Now the two will have their long awaited professional relationship and given Johnson's serious familiarity with Hurts as a player, we can expect the two to work together seamlessly and bring Philadelphia's offense to an even higher level.

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