Putting in the work
WR Johnson separates himself from rest of draft class
Posted: Friday March 16, 2007 12:14PM; Updated: Friday March 16, 2007 5:05PM
ATLANTA -- Walk up to an NFL fan on the street, ask him who Tom Shaw is and be prepared for a shrug of the shoulders. Ask Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or Reggie Bush about Shaw and the answer will be much different.
Calvin Johnson now knows about Tom Shaw, too. The former Georgia Tech wide receiver has been in Orlando since January working with Shaw, a renowned trainer who specializes in helping NFL draft hopefuls prepare for their combine and pro day workouts. Shaw's client list has included Brady, Manning and Bush. He has worked with 85 first-round draft picks, including four overall No. 1s, and some draft experts contend Johnson is good enough to be the fifth.
Johnson showcased his skills for NFL scouts on Thursday afternoon at the Yellow Jackets Pro Day and his performance did little to dissuade the belief by many draft experts that the 6-foot-5, 239-pound Johnson is the best prospect in April's draft. Despite an abbreviated pro day session due to weather concerns, Johnson excelled in the vertical jump (42.5 inches), long jump (11 feet, 7 inches) and caught every ball thrown his way. He did so in front of representatives from 28 NFL teams, including Raiders coach Lane Kiffin, Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and coach Joe Gibbs. Johnson opted not to run the 40-yard dash, choosing to let his 4.35 time at last month's combine speak for itself.
He did, however, want to clear one thing up. Published reports out of the combine said Johnson ran the 40 in shoes borrowed from East Carolina quarterback James Pinkney. Johnson said they were actually his own shoes, which Pinkney borrowed to run his 40. He felt it was important to clear this up, because with his work ethic and the diligence with how he goes about preparing himself, it would be uncharacteristic for him to forget something as simple as a pair of cleats.
"The thing that separates Calvin is he didn't have to create a work ethic, he already had a work ethic," said Georgia Tech head coach Chan Gailey. "He had it from the first day he stepped on campus. This is a pattern, a history, a character trait. It's not a show he puts on for scouts and coaches."
Shaw agrees, pointing out while Johnson's numbers at Georgia Tech (76 catches, 1,202 yards, 15 touchdowns as a junior) were stellar, it's his attitude that makes Johnson stand out. "Calvin Johnson is completely different than any athlete I've come across," Shaw said. "He works out like he's a free agent, like he's Mr. Irrelevant. Calvin is an athlete that is the hardest worker I've ever had. He never gets frustrated. All he wants to do is get better."
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