Jalen Johnson football

Jalen Johnson was on the verge of smashing career football records and looking to make a nearly-unprecedented fifth trip to the Sweet Sixteen basketball tournament during his senior year at Hopkinsville High School.

That potential, however, will never be realized.

It was confirmed late Thursday night that Johnson intends to transfer from Hoptown to Aspire Academy — a basketball prep school in Louisville. To fulfill his final year of high school, Johnson will also enroll at DeSales High School, which partners with Aspire to handle the academic portion of the academy.

He won’t play football at DeSales and will solely focus on hoops.

Aspire Academy co-founder and head coach Jeremy Kipness confirmed rumors of Johnson’s transfer on July 25 in an email to the Kentucky New Era, stating that, “Jalen Johnson will be at Aspire Academy this upcoming academic year and will be enrolled at St. Francis DeSales High School for the fall semester.”

Johnson later denied the report, leading Kipness to state that the transfer was not official and that he was still waiting on proper enrollment forms to come through.

With Johnson at the helm of the HHS football team the last several years, the Tigers established themselves as one of the top offenses in Class 4A. In 2016 alone, the junior southpaw Johnson was 141-of-262 for 2,311 passing yards and 31 touchdowns, good for a 53.8 completion percentage and 160.85 efficiency rating.

As the full-time starting quarterback in 2015 and 2016, Johnson led Hopkinsville to a pair of 10-win seasons and subsequent District 1 Championships.

After taking over the starting QB role late in his freshman season, Johnson had already racked up 69 career passing TDs and 5,037 passing yards, leaving him 12 passing TDs and 2,202 yards away from surpassing Deontey Kenner as Hoptown’s all-time leading passer.

Johnson owns the Hoptown record for most TD passes in a season (31), most passing yards in a game (390), completions in a game (25), and is tied with Curtis Pulley for most 200-yard passing games in a career with 11.

Sophomore Jay Bland is set to take over as the starting QB for the Tigers under returning coach Craig Clayton.

Along with being a dual-threat QB on the gridiron, Johnson is also a multi-sport standout. A starting guard on the Hopkinsville basketball team the past three years, the 6-foot-2, 160-pounder has college basketball offers from Samford and Northern Kentucky University.

Since his eighth-grade season in 2013-14, Johnson was a part of four regional championship teams on the hardwood. Last season, he averaged a team-best 17.7 points per game.

REACH CHRIS JUNG at 270-887-3261 or cjung@kentuckynewera.com.

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