Quentin Johnston: 'I'm due for a breakout' under Jim Harbaugh

ByKris Rhim ESPN logo
Thursday, February 1, 2024

LOS ANGELES -- Since Jim Harbaugh accepted the Los Angeles Chargers' head-coaching job last week, he's been reaching out to several players, including Quentin Johnston, whom Harbaugh faced two years ago as the coach at Michigan in the College Football Playoff semifinal.

Johnston and TCU won that game over Michigan, 51-45, with the star receiver snagging six catches for 163 yards and one touchdown. Harbaugh will be entering a TCU-laden locker room that includes Johnston, receiver Derius Davis and quarterback Max Duggan, who were all on that Horned Frogs team that beat Harbaugh's Wolverines.

Harbaugh joked about that point in his and Johnston's first interaction, before telling the rookie his excitement about coaching him this season.

"His past experience with the 49ers and then going to college, I have no doubt in my mind that he can get that done with this team at this level once again," said Johnston, the Chargers' 2023 first-round pick. "So we've got a world of confidence with him. I've been texting back and forth with some of the players, and we're very excited to get back to work."

Harbaugh, who will have his introductory news conference Thursday, coached the 49ers from 2011-14, when his teams made three conference championships and a Super Bowl. Under Harbaugh, receiver Michael Crabtree had some of his best seasons, including career highs of 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns in 2012.

The Chargers selected Johnston with the No. 21 pick last year. He showed flashes of the potential that made him a top pick, such as a 51-yard reception in a loss to the Denver Broncos in Week 14, but Johnston's season was more bad than good as he struggled with drops (3). He finished with 38 catches for 431 yards and two touchdowns.

Johnston has acknowledged his struggles but is confident he can turn it around with Harbaugh.

"I didn't really get a chance to show who I really was and what type of player I am, but I still got the world of confidence in myself even if nobody doesn't," Johnston told ESPN. "And so, you know, going into this next season, I can't wait. Like I said, I feel like I'm due for a breakout, so I'm very excited for that."