ohnson's decision met with agreement
Family, Gailey, NFL experts concur: Going pro is a good thing for Tech WR
By MATT WINKELJOHN and JEFF D'ALESSIO
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 01/08/07
Georgia Tech All-America wide receiver Calvin Johnson is bypassing his senior season for the NFL, he announced at a Monday news conference at the school.
"It's been a dream of mine," Johnson said shortly after noon. "It's been where I've wanted to be since I was a kid."
Johnson is projected to be a top pick in April's NFL draft. Though he said he'd love to play for the hometown Falcons, he's expected to be selected long before Atlanta's selection comes up, at No. 10.
The bad-news Oakland Raiders, a team Johnson said he'd have no problem suiting up for, select No. 1 overall.
"There is not a better prospect in this draft," former NFL scout and current draft analyst Chris Landry said Monday of Johnson. "He is a faster Terrell Owens on the field and the complete opposite off the field and in the locker room."
Landry said Johnson should be "a lock top-five pick" after winning ACC player of the year honors and the Biletnikoff Award, given to college football's top wide receiver.
Johnson's NFL stock likely couldn't have soared any higher, even if he returned to Tech and had another consensus All-America season.
"It's one of those situations where you have to maximize the moment," Johnson's father, Calvin Sr., said at Monday's news conference. "He made the right decision."
Added Johnson's mother, Arica: "I support my son and his decision. He has grown up in his thinking at Georgia Tech."
Johnson had until Jan. 15 to decide whether to bypass his senior season. He said he has not yet signed with an agent, but plans to choose on by month's end, then begin preparing for the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis.
Yellow Jackets coach Chan Gailey reiterated Monday what he said all season â€” that he expects Johnson to be a star at the next level. Gailey also supported the junior's decision.
"If he'd have been my son," Gailey said, "I would have advised him to go."
Johnson, a former Sandy Creek standout, set Tech records of 1,202 receiving yards and 15 receiving touchdowns this season. He also set the Tech career records of 2,927 receiving yards and 28 receiving touchdowns.
He caught nine passes for two touchdowns and a career-high 186 yards in last Monday's Gator Bowl loss to West Virginia and was named Tech's MVP.
"With his size, his hands and speed, if he stays healthy in this league, he'll set some records in the NFL," former Dallas Cowboys star Michael Irvin said.
As for a comparison, former San Francisco 49ers great Jerry Rice said: "He's tall and has the speed of Randy Moss."
Johnson said he is still enrolled in classes at Tech but may put them off to focus on getting ready for the draft. He said he's "about a year-and-a-half away" from completing his degree, which he someday plans to do.
Johnson is at the top of a star-studded crop of underclassmen to declare for the draft in recent days. On Sunday, South Carolina receiver Sidney Rice announced he'd turn pro early. LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell is also reportedly set to bypass his senior season.
"I think I have a chance to go pretty high," Johnson said.