So after being met with Michael Johnson's voicemail for much of the day (he probably had his phone off after the call from Cincy because he knew it was going to blow up from friends, family and interview-seeking media members), I finally got through with the former Georgia Tech defensive end, who was on Cloud 9 this afternoon.
Of course, earlier this morning (it's still Sunday as I type this), Johnson was drafted in the third round of this weekend's NFL Draft as the No. 70 overall pick to the Cincinnati Bengals. There, he'll be required to come in as a third-down pass-rush specialist -- a similar role to the one he had during the 2007 season on The Flats. It's also a real good bet that he'll play some on special teams after he blocked three field goals during his career at Georgia Tech. Only 10 football players in college football history have more blocked field goals.
Of course, Johnson wasn't alone. Offensive lineman Andrew Gardner headed to the Miami Dolphins in the sixth round, joining one of my real close fraternity brothers in an athletic, up-and-coming offensive line. Speaking of Miami, the drafting of Pat White by the Dolphins high in the draft should bode well for quarterbacks in a system similar to Georgia Tech's. What do you think? Does the Dolphins' "Wildcat" offense bode well for the draft prospects of future Georgia Tech option/run-n-shoot style quarterbacks and offensive linemen? Sure the Yellow Jackets don't run your traditional spread option, but perhaps they could still have impact in the "Wildcat" (I love the name of the offense, btw; though it's hard, I am a Wildcat through and through). What do you think about Tech's future draft prospects at all positions? Let me know!
Along with Johnson and Gardner were seventh round picks Vance Walker (Atlanta Falcons) and Darryl Richard (New England Patriots). That's great news for both guys. Of course Vance will be fairly close to his Fort Mill, S.C. home, and he won't have to move too far away from his current Atlanta residence. And for Darryl, one of the classiest and nicest athletes I've encountered, it's definitely good to see him get drafted, and get drafted by a team that has a history of reaching the Super Bowl. Additionally, late Sunday, former GT cornerback Jahi Word-Daniels signed with San Francisco as an undrafted free agent.
OK, now that the Draft weekend dust has settled, here is a snippet of my interview with Michael Johnson today:
ColeyHarvey: "What was it like in your house when Cincinnati called you?"
Michael Johnson: "It was like, 'Lead the way,' you know? I was just happy. I can't really explain it. This opportunity is golden. I'm packing my stuff up now to head back to Atlanta and then pack up my stuff there to head to (Cincinnati) on Thursday.
"I was kind of chill, actually. I was in there laying on my parents' bed. I had just gotten out of the shower, and I was back in their room. Then my daddy brought me my phone and was like, 'It's Coach Lewis.'
CH: "So your dad answered the phone first?"
CH: "Were you a little mad at that? I could imagine you were hoping to be the one to answer the phone."
MJ: "Oh no, I wasn't mad at that. (Laughs) He answered and the guy said he was Coach Lewis, and then he told me and gave me the phone."
CH: "One of the things the draft experts have been harping on concerning you is your supposed lack of motivation and desire. Have you heard those rumors, and what do they make you think when you hear them?"
MJ: "I'm just ready to go out and prove any doubters wrong. I've never had anyone in my whole life question anything about me like that. It was all really foreign to me, and I really didn't even know what to think about it. I really don't think about it. I just want to go out and make plays and ball out, man. That's all I can do."
CH: "Knowing the role you took as a captain and a leader on GT's team last year, did that make it even more surprising to hear that criticism?"
MJ: "It does. It's very surprising. I really don't know what else to do about it except make plays, and then when I make it to the Pro Bowl, I can be like, 'Now what?' (Laughs)
CH: "Speaking of that, ironically, ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper, Jr. -- who said Sunday that you weren't tough and needed motivation -- went on to add that in three years, you may end up being the key to this draft. Thoughts?"
MJ: "See, that's what I'm saying! They know! ... I don't know what it is. I really don't. That's why all this is so puzzling to me. Because they all know what type of player I am and what type of plays that I make. That's why it's so funny when they mention stuff like they do. And also, this whole 'potential' thing. Like I was telling somebody else, we're all college players going to the NFL. We all have potential. No one has put on an NFL uniform yet. So everybody who got drafted -- be it yesterday, today, or gets signed as an undrafted free agent -- they all have potential until they go out there and prove it. And I look forward to going out there and proving it. I'm ready."
CH: "Obviously you didn't get your name called Saturday, and at points this year you were rumored to be a definite first-day pick. How did you handle that last night?"
MJ: "It was disappointing. Because I know I'm definitely one of the top players in this draft and I'll go out there and show that this year and for the rest of my career. And that's what I really look forward to doing. But down the line, with everybody talking like that (criticizing his motivation), they (Bengals) really got a steal when they got Mike. I'm just going to go out there and actually out-perform everybody."
CH: "Of course head coach Marvin Lewis is a defensive-minded coach. How much are you looking forward to working with him?"
MJ: "He's a good guy. I met with him down in Mobile (Ala.) along with the defensive coordinatory (Mike Zimmer) and the defensive line coach (Jay Hayes). They ran a lot of the drills at the Combine for me. I talked to them a lot. It'll be great thing playing for them. They're excited about me, I'm excited about going up there to be with them, and it's a great thing that happened to me today in getting drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals. I'm really looking forward to it."
OK, that's all from the conversation. Glad you stopped by to check it out!