Sticking with TCU has paid off for Quentin Johnston

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LOS ANGELES — The easy decision was to explore his options. Enter the transfer portal. Fatten his wallet through Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) and join a ready-made program.

That, however, didn’t interest Quentin Johnston, despite the change in coaches at TCU after a dismal 5-7 campaign.

“Leaving never crossed my mind,” the star wideout said Saturday at the L.A. Convention Center. “People came up to me, asking me, kind of just assuming [I was going to transfer].

I came here because of the longevity and stuff, and culture coach [Gary Patterson] and his staff had built. But after they left, by that time, I didn’t just fall in love with the football program. I fell in love with the TCU community as a whole. And, plus, I built relationships with people on the team, a lot of my brothers that I came in with.”

Johnston received overtures from other programs, promises of big paydays. There was a brief time that he considered entering the portal. But that was before sitting down with Sonny Dykes, TCU’s new coach, and his position coach, Malcolm Kelly, was retained. They had a close relationship going back to his recruitment.

TCU's Quentin Johnston
TCU’s Quentin Johnston
USA TODAY Sports

Dykes sat down with Johnston’s parents, and broached the subject of NIL. They didn’t want to hear about it. All that mattered was the plan Dykes and his staff had for their son, on and off the field.

“I think to me that’s the great lesson in all of this,” Dykes said. “And I think everybody wants to be compensated for their abilities. And everybody wants to have an opportunity to increase their standing financially. But at the end of the day, I think the guys that make the big-picture decisions really are the ones that get rewarded.”

Johnston’s decision was the first domino to fall that set up this miraculous season for TCU, a year nobody could’ve predicted. It’s not just what Johnson has done on the field, and the junior from Temple, Texas, has performed exceptionally well, catching 59 passes for 1,066 yards and six touchdowns. When Dykes took the job, there were four players he was told he had to keep. Johnston was the lone player to stay.

“It was important not only for his talent, but I think it was also an endorsement from him,” Dykes said. “Everybody was looking for somebody to say, ‘Look, I’m jumping on the train.’ And Quentin did that for us.”

Looking back now, the 6-foot-4 Johnston can’t help but think about what a wise choice he made. He significantly raised his NFL draft stock, to the point he may be the first receiver taken in April, and he will get to play in the national championship on Monday night, a key part of one of college football’s great underdog stories. Odds are, that wouldn’t have happened had he opted to transfer. From the outside, TCU may have looked like a bad situation, coming off a losing season with a new coach. But it wasn’t.

“Just because the situation looks rocky, that doesn’t mean it is,” Johnston said. “I was offered money and all types of stuff like that. But I feel there’s more [to life] than just a paycheck.”

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