NEXT RUNNER-UP: CALVIN JOHNSON
You will hear, in the weeks leading up to the NFL draft, that Calvin Johnson is not a diva like other superstar receivers, that heĦs a lot like Marvin Harrison, only much bigger. (His wideout coach at Georgia Tech, Buddy Geiswho also coached Harrison in the NFLsays Johnson is better, too.) You will hear about his size, his speed and his unfathomable acrobatics. Above all, you will hear that he is not arrogant. That last point is dead wrong. Watch him play. Johnson has the arrogance of a man who can do anything he wants on a football field. Just lining him up at wide receiver makes a brash statement. Men this fast are not supposed to be this big. He is 6'5", 235 pounds, with 4.3 speed in the 40 and a 45-inch vertical leap. But thereĦs more to Johnson than measurables. He instinctively uses his size to shield the ball from defenders, and he reacts in the air as well as anyone in the game, at any levelthe second coming of Larry Fitzgerald, but easier to spot in a crowd. ThereĦs video all over the web to prove it. Good thing, because self-promotion is not one of JohnsonĦs strengths. He doesnĦt preen after first downs, or complain when a play goes bust.
He shuts up and plays. And shuts up some more. Whether itĦs shyness, humility or boredom, Calvin Johnson says very little about Calvin Johnson. A recent phone interview before the Gator Bowl mined exactly zero usable quotes. Which was fine, really, since his nine catches for a careerhigh 186 yards and 2 TDs said quite a bit. Thing is, Johnson has so much more to talk about than football. He was a pro baseball prospect in high school, and this son of a Ph.D. actually paid attention in college.
During a summer job last year at a Tech research lab, Johnson helped design and build an affordable water-conserving latrine for third-world countries. And so his decision to skip his senior year and enter the draft was just that, a decision, not the foregone conclusion most assumed it to be. Yes, youĦll hear a lot of Calvin Johnson stories in the next several weeks. And the best part is, when he finally hits an NFL field this fall, youĦre going to hear even more. -LUKE CYPHERS