By Robert Ruiz
The first time the Detroit Lion’s Calvin Johnson stepped foot onto Georgia Tech’s Rose Bowl practice field, coaches knew the wide-eyed freshman was something special. Little did they know just how special. The type of special the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets had never seen in their 112 year history of NCAA football. We’re talking “Megatron” special.
Coming out of Sandy Creek High School, just south of Atlanta, every primetime college football program in the country coveted the 6 foot 4 inch 210 pound blazing fast wide receiver. All the major high school football recruiting analyst, from ESPN to Rivals.com, rated the future Detroit Lions superstar as a Top 10 wide receiver in the country. As the scholarship offers began to mount, only two schools emerged as serious contenders to land the physical and fast athletic freak from Tyrone, Georgia.
Johnson only drove 40 miles north of his hometown of Tyrone to take his official visit at the Georgia Institute of Technology on December 12th, 2003. Nearly a month later Johnson journeyed about an hour north of Atlanta up Highway 316 to Athens, Georgia, to visit the University of Georgia Bulldogs. Coming from a family of educators, it was no surprise that quality of education would play a vital role in the decision making process of Johnson and his parents.
Just three days after his visit to UGA, Johnson made it official, "I feel that Georgia Tech is the best place for me," Johnson said. "Academically, I can't do any better than that. I just fit in over there." Johnson’s family played host to then Georgia Tech Head Coach Chan Gailey and a few of his assistant coaches about a month before National Signing Day on January 12th, 2004.
"When I said I was committing Coach Gailey just jumped up, came over and gave me a handshake and all that. They were excited." Calvin’s parents were also happy with the decision. "They feel it's the best place for me also. That's where they wanted me to go and that's where I wanted to go also. It's a great fit."
After becoming one of Georgia Tech’s most highly touted recruits in recent years, Johnson would go on to become the most prolific wide receiver in the long and storied history of the college football program. Johnson was a star from day one. The future 2nd overall NFL draft pick was named First Team All-ACC his freshman year of 2004. Johnson led the Yellow Jackets in receiving on 48 catches for 837 yards and 7 touchdowns his inaugural season. These numbers were also freshman records for the Yellow Jackets program.
After setting career receiving records at Georgia Tech in yards, receptions, and in career 100 yard receiving games, after 3 years, Johnson declared for the NFL Draft in January 2007. Although earning his degree from Georgia Tech was highly important to Johnson and his parents, Calvin decided to bypass his senior season of eligibility. Most NFL mock drafts had him projected as the #1 prospect in the draft as he grew to 6 feet 5 inches and bulked up to 239 pounds. He wowed NFL scouts with his 4.35 second forty yard dash time and his freakish athletic ability.
On April 28th, 2007, Calvin Johnson became the highest Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket ever drafted, going as the #2 overall pick to the Detroit Lions. Little did then General Manager Matt Millen know, he had just drafted the superstar that would earn the nickname “Megatron” and ignite a beleaguered team, fan base, and city.
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