ATLANTA -- For Calvin Johnson, this was a no-brainer.
Georgia Tech's star receiver announced Monday that he will give
up his senior season to enter the NFL draft, fully aware that he
should be one of the top players selected.
Even his parents, who are adamant that he get his college
degree, knew there was no use putting off the pros any longer.
"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. He made the right decision for himself. He didn't
feel a lot of pressure from us."
Almost from the day he stepped on campus, the younger Johnson
was expected to last only three seasons with the Yellow Jackets. It
was immediately clear that he was a rare combination of size
(6-foot-5, 235 pounds), athleticism and hand-eye coordination.
He runs a 4.4 40-yard dash and has a 45-inch vertical leap -- a
combination that makes him difficult to defend, even with a scheme
keyed to stop him.
"I think the sky's the limit," Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey
said. "He has all the tangible factors to be a great, great
player. He has all the intangible factors to be a great, great
By most accounts, Johnson will be one of the top players
selected in the April draft. In fact, he could go first overall to
the Oakland Raiders, who are desperate to improve an offense that
averaged just 10.5 points a game and might not bring back
disgruntled wideouts Randy Moss and Jerry Porter.
Johnson was so confident that he didn't bother checking with the
NFL advisory panel that rates the potential of juniors who are
considering whether to enter the draft. This guy is a first-rounder
all the way -- it's just a matter of how soon his name is called.
"The NFL has been a dream of mine," he said. "That's where
I've wanted to be since I started playing football."
In just his second college game, Johnson had eight catches for
127 yards and three touchdowns to lead an amazing comeback win at
Clemson. Later that season, he came up with an amazing one-handed
catch against North Carolina State, prompting an opponent to dub
Johnson closed his college career with his best season of all,
catching 76 passes for 1,202 yards and 15 touchdowns. He was chosen
to The Associated Press All-America team and won the Biletnikoff
Award as the nation's top receiver.
"It was the logical thing to do," his father said. "He would
have been doing himself a disservice if he didn't go."
Johnson made his announcement at Georgia Tech's football
complex, flanked by his father, mother Arika and sister Erica.
"This is the best way to go," said the receiver, who assured
his parents that he will complete his degree. "I had a great time
here at Tech. It's been a tough decision. But I made the choice to
In his final college game, Johnson had nine catches for 186
yards and two touchdowns in a 38-35 loss to West Virginia in the
"What can you say about Calvin Johnson?" West Virginia coach
Rich Rodriguez said. "We knew coming in he was going to be
dangerous, but he just ran over top of us."
Johnson thrived at Georgia Tech even while facing persistent
double-teaming and working all three seasons with an inconsistent
quarterback, Reggie Ball, who usually struggled to complete half
Johnson's teammates held out faint hope that he might return,
but they knew he couldn't pass up the opportunity to move on to the
"I was thinking if he came back, we might make a run at the
national championship," running back Tashard Choice said. "I
would like to have him back, but the big guy has got to go. It's