Sandy Creek grad Johnson plays before home crowd

Tue, 09/09/2008 - 2:53pm
By: Michael Boylan

Sandy Creek grad Johnson plays before home crowd

Local football fans were blessed with getting to watch Calvin Johnson play both his high school and college ball in the area.

At Sandy Creek, Johnson, who was a highly touted Division I recruit, had 80 receptions for 1,479 yards and 18 touchdowns in his junior and senior years combined. He chose to play his college ball at Georgia Tech and in 38 games with the Yellow Jackets he caught 178 passes (second in Tech history) for 2,927 yards and 28 touchdown receptions (both school records).

His talent and good fortune led him to be the second pick of the 2007 NFL draft, but local fans would have to watch the highlight shows to see Johnson strut his stuff for the Detroit Lions. Until this past Sunday, when the Lions came to the Georgia Dome to kick off the 2008 season with the Atlanta Falcons.

Johnson, who had friends, family, former teachers and fans in the crowd, had seven catches for 107 yards. Johnson had the honor of catching the first pass of the season for the Lions and making the first first down, but the Lions were defeated by the Falcons 34-21.

After the game in the visitors locker room, Johnson was not in a talkative mood.

“I don’t have much to say,” he told the gathering of reporters. “Any game you lose is disappointing.” Johnson, asked to comment on his performance in the game, added, “We didn’t win and I don’t feel good at all.”

Expectations are high for Johnson. Last year, he had 48 catches for 756 yards and four touchdowns, despite battling a nagging back injury. He had 15.8 yards per catch and was one of three rookies with both a rushing and a receiving touchdown. In the pre-season this year, the Lions went 4-0 and Johnson had nine catches for 170 yards and a touchdown. Johnson was averaging 18.9 yards per catch.

There will undoubtedly be brighter days for the Lions and for Johnson this season.

“We’ve just got to bounce back and play our game,” Johnson said before departing.

The Lions will play their home opener next Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.

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