Friday January 19, 2007
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Johnson chooses NFL

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By Michael Schneider / Student Publications

Calvin Johnson caught the final passes of his collegiate career during the Gator Bowl before declaring himself eligible for the draft.

By Asif Heerji Senior Staff Writer

Tech fans remember it vividly, players and coaches have it embedded in their memory and he could not believe that he did it. On Nov. 6, 2004, Calvin Johnson made one of the most amazing catches in years.

Although he hauled in just three catches for 47 yards that day, it was his first reception of the afternoon that grabbed people's attention. On a third down play, quarterback Reggie Ball unleashed a pass Johnson's way that was two feet behind the receiver. For any other receiver, the pass would have probably fallen harmlessly to the ground for an incompletion, but Johnson is not just any other receiver.

Running with full force in one direction, Johnson reached back in the opposite direction with his 6-foot-5 frame and hauled in an acrobatic one-handed catch. Described as the best catch of his Tech career, Jackets' fans knew what they had when Johnson arrived that year-something they'll soon be missing.

Tech's star wide receiver, the two-time All-American, Biletnikoff Award winner, three-time first team all-ACC selection and unanimous ACC Player of the Year, Johnson announced that he will forgo his senior season on the Flats and enter the 2007 NFL draft .

Johnson, along with his father, Calvin Johnson, Sr., his mother, Arica, and his older sister, Erica, who were all present at the news conference, said that "it would be the best way to go". He continued on to say "it's been a dream of mine" and "it's the one place I've wanted to be since I started playing football". He also said that his draft projection and the order of teams selecting in the draft had no bearing on his decision.

"It's one of those situations where he's got to maximize the moment," Calvin Johnson Sr. said. "These opportunities don't come along very often and he made the right decision for himself. He didn't feel a lot of pressure from us."

"The sky is the limit," said Tech football Head Coach Chan Gailey. He has all of the tangible factors to be a great, great player and he has all of the intangible factors to be a great, great player."

Johnson ended his career in the Toyota Gator Bowl on New Year's day with nine catches for a career-high 186 yards and two touchdowns.

After just three years on the Flats, the Tyrone, Ga. native leaves Atlanta as Tech's career leader in receiving yards (2927) and touchdown receptions (28), surpassing former Tech great Kelly Campbell in both categories.

In addition, Johnson recorded 13, 100-yard receiving games, passing both Harvey Middleton and Campbell who each recorded 10 such games throughout their four year careers. He finished just 17 receptions shy of the career receptions record held by Campbell.

Throughout his career, Johnson scored 29 touchdowns, which ranks him third on the Institute's all-time touchdown list.

He hauled in 15 receiving touchdowns this past year, which ranked him second in the nation in that category and amassed 1202 receiving yards and seven 100-yard receiving games this season - all three of which are a school record.

Several scouts and draft analysts have Johnson projected not only as the top wide receiver to enter the NFL draft, but the top player available overall among all eligible entries.

The 6-foot-5, 235-pound junior runs the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds and has a 45-inch vertical leap, a combination which is unique and makes him difficult to stop no matter who is defending him.

He is projected to be a top draft pick and if selected in the first round, will become the first Yellow Jacket selected in the top round since the Atlanta Falcons selected Keith Brooking with the 12th overall pick in 1998.

If Johnson is selected with one of the top three picks, he will become the highest player ever to be drafted from Tech. Eddie Prokop is currently the highest Jacket ever to be selected in the NFL draft. Prokop was selected with the fourth overall pick in 1945 by the Boston Patriots.

When asked about finishing his education, Johnson said "that's definitely something I am going to do."