STARKVILLE, Miss. (MSU Athletics/WTVA) - Michael Johnson, a veteran in both the college and professional coaching ranks who spent the 2017-18 seasons at the University of Oregon, has been named Mississippi State’s wide receivers coach, head coach Joe Moorhead announced on Monday.
Johnson brings 16 years of experience coaching in college and the NFL. At the college level, in addition to coaching Oregon’s wide receivers from 2017-18, he has worked at UCLA (2011) and Oregon State (1997-99). His NFL résumé includes stints with the San Francisco 49ers (2009-10), Baltimore Ravens (2006-07), Atlanta Falcons (2002-05) and San Diego Chargers (2000-01).
“Michael will be an incredible asset to our coaching staff,” Moorhead said. “He’s coached some of the best players in the NFL and has offensive coordinator experience at both the college and professional levels. His wide receiver group broke records last year at Oregon. He understands technique and getting the most out of his players. He also is an outstanding recruiter and knows what it takes to build and maintain relationships at this level. He is going to make an immediate impact on our program.”
A proven recruiter who helped the Ducks land the No. 5 recruiting class during the December 2018 early signing period, Johnson’s wide receivers unit in 2018 featured the best individual performance at the position in program history. Junior Dillon Mitchell finished with 75 catches for a single-season record 1,184 yards receiving, which also led the Pac-12, and 10 touchdowns. He was named second-team All-Pac-12 by both conference coaches and The Associated Press.
“This is a great opportunity for me and my family,” Johnson said. “I’m incredibly excited to be a Bulldog and grateful to join Coach Moorhead’s staff. I look forward to building relationships and developing our wide receivers into an elite unit both on and off the field. I can’t wait to get started and help make an impact.”
Prior to Oregon, Johnson was the head coach at The King’s Academy from 2014-16 in Sunnyvale, California. At TKA, he coached his son Michael Jr., a highly ranked dual-threat quarterback who signed with Penn State during the early signing period last December.
Before TKA, Johnson spent two seasons as a player personnel director at North East Sports Consultants.
Johnson was hired at UCLA in 2011 to be the offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach after serving on the staff of the San Francisco 49ers during the 2009 and 2010 seasons. Under his leadership, senior wide receiver Nelson Rosario led the Bruins and ranked fifth in the Pac-12 with 1,161 yards to go along with 64 catches and five touchdowns. He helped guide the Bruins to an appearance in the first Pac-12 Championship Game and also served as the interim head coach in the Fight Hunger Bowl.
In 2010, Johnson was promoted to San Francisco’s offensive coordinator under Mike Singletary after working as quarterbacks coach in 2009. He played a key role in the development of quarterbacks Shaun Hill and Alex Smith. The two combined for 23 passing touchdowns in 2009, marking the highest total in a single season by a 49ers signal caller since 2003. Hill started the first six games, but Smith earned his way back into the starting lineup after not having played a regular season game in two-plus years due to injury. Behind Johnson’s guidance, Smith stepped in and recorded the best 10-game stretch of his career at the time, setting career highs in touchdown passes (18), completion percentage (.605) and quarterback rating (81.5).
Before his time with the 49ers, Johnson was the wide receivers coach for the Baltimore Ravens from 2006-07. With the Ravens, he helped veteran wideout Derrick Mason record his sixth 1,000-yard season during in 2007. Mason led the Ravens in receiving yards (1,087), catches (103) and touchdown receptions (5). In 2006, wide receiver Mark Clayton developed into Baltimore’s top playmaker, leading the team in receiving yards (939). Clayton also logged five touchdown catches, including three of 62 yards or more.
Johnson spent the four previous seasons with the Falcons. He coached quarterbacks from 2003-05, tutoring three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Michael Vick, and led the wide receivers unit in 2002. Vick passed for 2,412 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2005, while ranking second on the team with 597 rushing yards. Vick became the first NFL quarterback to throw for more than 250 yards and run for more than 100 yards in a single game at Denver during the 2004 season.
In 2003, Johnson was given the keys to the Falcons’ offense for the final two games of the season. In those two contests, Vick recorded his second-highest quarterback rating of the year (119.2 at Tampa Bay and 93.0 at Jacksonville). Johnson tutored a young Falcons wide receiver group in 2002 that included Brian Finneran, who had the most productive season of his career, recording 833 yards on 56 receptions and six touchdowns.
Johnson got his first NFL job with the San Diego Chargers in 2000 as quarterbacks coach when Jim Harbaugh and Ryan Leaf were QBs. He also coached Doug Flutie to 3,476 passing yards in 2001, the most by a Chargers quarterback since Dan Fouts, and was also instrumental in the development of then-rookie quarterback Drew Brees.
Following his professional playing career, Johnson began his coaching career at Oregon State. He coached wide receivers during his first two seasons and then quarterbacks in 1999, a season in which he helped guide the program to its first bowl game in 39 years.
A quarterback during his playing days, Johnson played four seasons in the World Football League and the Canadian Football League. He set numerous records as the starting quarterback at the University of Akron in 1988 and 1989, including being named the school’s Athlete of the Year in 1989-90. Before Akron, Johnson played at Arizona State (1985-86) and Mesa Community College.
Johnson and his wife Louan have one daughter, Taylor, and one son, Michael Jr. Louan is a former track and field student-athlete at USC (1987-91), and Taylor is currently a junior track and field student-athlete at Nebraska.
2019-present: Mississippi State (Wide Receivers)
2017-18: Oregon (Wide Receivers)
2014-16: The King's Academy (Head Coach)
2011: UCLA (Offensive Coordinator)
2010: San Francisco 49ers (Offensive Coordinator)
2009: San Francisco 49ers (Quarterbacks )
2006-07: Baltimore Ravens (Wide Receivers)
2003-05 : Atlanta Falcons (Quarterbacks)
2002: Atlanta Falcons (Wide Receivers)
2000-01: San Diego Chargers (Quarterbacks)
1999: Oregon State (Quarterbacks)
1997-98 : Oregon State (Wide Receivers)
Bowl Games/Playoff Games as a Coach
2018 Redbox Bowl (Oregon)
2011 Fight Hunger Bowl* (UCLA)
2006 AFC Divisional Round (Baltimore Ravens)
2004 NFC Championship Round (Atlanta Falcons)
2002 NFC Divisional Round (Atlanta Falcons)
1999 Oahu Bowl (Oregon State)
* - denotes served as interim head coach
The Michael Johnson File
Birthdate: May 2, 1967
Hometown: Los Angeles, Calif.
Education: Akron, 2008 (B.S., Business Organizational Communication)
Children: Taylor, Michael Jr.
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