Clovis High QB Receives Scholarship Offer From Fresno State

Nate Johnson played in a bevy of roles as a sophomore last season, but he is “100% a quarterback” for the Cougars in his junior year. (Courtesy of Stanley Miyake)

Nate Johnson can now add his hometown school to his list of potential college destinations.

Fresno State officially extended a football scholarship offer to Nate Johnson Wednesday, according to the Clovis High quarterback’s Twitter account.

Johnson, a 6-foot-1, 185 pound prospect in the Class of 2022, has also received offers from the University of Utah and University of Arizona, both members of the Pac-12 conference.

Currently, there are three former Clovis Cougars on the Fresno State football roster: freshman wide receiver Grant Lake, redshirt freshman defensive back Matthew Sanchez, and senior defensive end Tanner Rice.

There are a few Bulldog connections in the Clovis High coaching staff as well: strength and conditioning coach E.J. Jackson ran for Fresno State in track & field and helped set a program record in the 4×100-meter relay. Wide receiver coach Michael Butler Jr. played football at Fresno State from 2008-2012.

Butler Jr. had a front row seat to Johnson’s athletic ability last season, when the latter played at wide receiver and amassed over 1,000 yards receiving.

“He was one of those players who had to be on the field. He was too athletic not to be on the field,” said Butler Jr.

Johnson turned a few heads with his athletic ability at an Elite 11 regional scouting event last November, when he ran a 4.45 40-yard dash and leaped for a 36-inch vertical jump. His athleticism allowed him to impact the game in multiple roles last year – wide receiver, kick returner and punter among them – yet Butler Jr. describes him as “100 percent a quarterback.”

“Where he is going to wow a lot of people is at that quarterback position,” said Butler Jr. “I think him being able to play receiver just opened people’s eyes to how special a player he really is.”

Clovis head coach Rich Hammond expects Johnson to impress Central Valley high school fans as well, when the season gets underway.

“Nate is the most talented and the best quarterback I have gotten the opportunity to coach,” said Hammond, who has coached two All-State quarterbacks in his tenure with the Cougars.

“The biggest thing about Nate is his ability to lead his team, make plays with his legs when there’s not something there, and throw the ball and really drive it down the field. There is an intangible factor, a maturity factor and a confidence factor that goes into playing quarterback, and I think guys are ready for it at different points in time. I have no doubt Nate is ready to be our starting quarterback.”

With Fresno State offering Johnson Wednesday, the football pipeline from Clovis High to Fresno State remains strong. Along with three former Cougars on the current Fresno State football roster, recently graduated Bulldog Josh Hokit was an All-State running back and linebacker at Clovis High before walking on to Fresno State.

“By having a high standard in our program, the way we practice prepares guys, so that when they show up [in college], they got a good base in the fundamentals,” said Hammond. “They’re able to show up at a program and they understand the work that it takes to be successful.”

Unlike the four recent Cougars-turned-Bulldogs – Sanchez, Lake, Rice and Hokit – Nate Johnson won’t need to walk on to play for his hometown school. It’s a testament to how special of a player Johnson is, and how exciting his final two years at Clovis High promise to be.

Gabriel Camarillo has written for the Clovis Roundup since August 2019 and follows high school athletics, Fresno State football and former Clovis Unified student-athletes. Gabe also writes for The Collegian as a staff sports writer and works at One Putt Broadcasting as a board op for 940 ESPN radio.