February 28, 2007

Calvin Johnson confident after Combine

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KISSIMMEE, Fla. Calvin Johnson wants to clear up one misconception: He used his own shoes to show off that dazzling speed at the NFL scouting combine.

Some thought Johnson had borrowed another player's cleats when they saw him scrambling to lace up just before he ripped off the 40-yard dash in an eye-opening 4.35 seconds - one of the fastest times in Indianapolis.

"There was a quarterback there who was running with his tennis shoes on," the former Georgia Tech receiver said Wednesday. "I told him, 'Man, you need some cleats.' We both wore the same size, 15, so I let him borrow mine. Then I had to put them back on before I ran."

Johnson's time all but assured that he'll be one of the top players taken in the April draft. He feels like he's the best player available and should go first overall.

"That's the attitude I've got to have, and that's the way I feel," he said. "I feel like they're going to call my name pretty early. It would be great to be up there at No. 1."

After impressing in Indy, Johnson headed to central Florida to continue his workouts. That allowed him to be on hand to throw out the ceremonial first pitch when his alma mater faced the Atlanta Braves in a spring training game.

Johnson wound up his right arm a few times before delivering a high pitch to Braves minor league catcher Clint Sammons, who played his college ball at Georgia.

"That's the first time I've thrown a ball in a couple of years," said Johnson, who was a pitcher and center fielder during his high school days. "It was a little high and wide, but I'm just happy I didn't bounce it across the plate."

While his baseball skills may be a little rusty, there's no doubt about his talents on the football field. He is the prototype receiver - 6-foot-5 with a set of amazing hands, which earned him the nickname "Spider-man" when he played for the Yellow Jackets.

At the combine, some scouts wondered if he had gotten a little heavy when he tipped the scales at 239 pounds. He came to Indy not planning to run, but changed his mind when he began hearing one question after another about his weight.

The issue quickly faded away when Johnson put up the third-fastest time at the combine.

"I helped myself a lot when I ran," he said. "I knew I could do a 4.4, but the 4.35 surprised me. I don't think I've run that fast since my senior year of high school."




 

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