Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

The Best Player (Who Probably Won't Win the Heisman); Tech's Calvin Johnson Faces Big Hurdles for Big Trophy

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

The Best Player (Who Probably Won't Win the Heisman); Tech's Calvin Johnson Faces Big Hurdles for Big Trophy

Article excerpt

Byline: ADAM VAN BRIMMER

ATLANTA - Heisman Trophy voters consider Georgia Tech's Calvin Johnson a long shot to win the award.

A handful of surveyed voters who commented about Johnson specifically outlined several obstacles confronting the junior wide receiver.

To summarize: Johnson is a wide receiver who catches passes from a quarterback with a history of inaccuracy on a team few consider a national title contender.

His place near the middle or bottom of Heisman watch lists suits Johnson fine. He is an unwilling Heisman candidate, refusing to discuss his viability for the award or even the trophy itself.

Yet Johnson can't silence others, especially those who can help him win it. The unofficial committee to elect Calvin Johnson - his coaches and teammates - tout him as one of the trophy favorites.

"Calvin could have won the Heisman last year, he could win it this year, and he could win it next year," Georgia Tech quarterback Reggie Ball said. "I think that highly of the guy."

Ball is Johnson's most important campaigner, albeit through his play, not his words.

Ball is a 50-percent career passer, and Johnson has caught an average of just five passes per game the last two seasons.

Ball's struggles have contributed to Johnson's failure to post a 1,000-yard receiving season - almost a prerequisite for first-team All-American status, let alone Heisman consideration.

"It's like [Ball's] middle name is inconsistent," said Desmond Howard, the 1991 Heisman winner out of Michigan and a voter for the award. "This is his fourth year starting. You don't know what Calvin Johnson is going to go through."

Statistical expectations can't be high for Johnson because of Ball, Howard said. David Teel, a writer for the Daily News in Newport News, Va., who is also a Heisman voter, called Ball an "anchor around [Johnson's] neck. …

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