Former Georgia Tech and Detroit Lions standout wide receiver Calvin Johnson is the recipient of the Walter Camp Football Foundation’s 2017 “Man of the Year” award.
The Walter Camp “Man of the Year” award honors an individual who has been closely associated with the game of football as a player, coach or close attendant to the game. He must have attained a measure of success and been a leader in his chosen profession. He must have contributed to the public service for the benefit of his community, country and his fellow man. He must have an impeccable reputation for integrity and must be dedicated to our American Heritage and the philosophy of Walter Camp.
Johnson joins a distinguished list of former “Man of the Year” winners, including Roger Staubach (Navy), Gale Sayers (Kansas), Dick Butkus (Illinois), John Elway (Stanford), Jerome Bettis (Notre Dame), and last year’s recipient Warrick Dunn (Florida State).
“Calvin Johnson was a standout on the football field, worthy of his nickname MegaTron” said Foundation president Michael Madera. “However, his work away from the field helping young people reach their goals on and off the field makes him a worthy Man of the Year recipient.”
Born in Newnan, Ga., Johnson attended Sandy Creek High School and was a standout in both football and baseball. At Georgia Tech, Johnson was a three-time All-Atlantic Coast Conference and two-time Walter Camp All-America wide receiver, and was the winner of the Biletnikoff Award (nation’s best receiver) in 2006. In 38 career collegiate games, he set school records with 2,927 yards receiving and 28 touchdown receptions. Johnson caught 178 passes to rank second in Tech history in career receptions.
Selected in the first round (second pick overall) by the Detroit Lions where he played nine seasons. He was a six-time Pro Bowl selection, and was a three-time NFL First Team All-Pro honoree.
He was nicknamed “Megatron,” after the powerful but evil robot leader from the Transformers cartoon and toy line. His best professional season came in 2012, when Johnson topped the NFL with 122 receptions and 1,964 receiving yards, which broke the single-season record set by Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (1995).
On March 8, 2016, Johnson announced his retirement from the NFL after nine seasons. His 11,619 receiving yards rank third in a player’s first nine seasons. His 5,137 receiving yards from 2011 to 2013 were the most by any player over a three-year stretch in NFL history.
In 2008, he founded The Calvin Johnson Jr. Foundation, Inc., dedicated to the education, training, and social development of at-risk youth, along with providing financial assistance to community organizations. Since its inception, CJJRF has assisted hundreds of youth with limited financial resources “catch” their dreams on and off the field.
Johnson, along with the 128th annual Walter Camp All-America team and other award winners, will be honored at the organization’s 51st national awards banquet on Saturday, January 13, 2018, at Yale University’s Lanman Center in New Haven. For more information, visit www.waltercamp.org
Walter Camp, “The Father of American Football,” first selected an All-America team in 1889. Camp – a former Yale University athlete and football coach – is also credited with developing play from scrimmage, set plays, the numerical assessment of goals and tries and the restriction of play to eleven men per side. The Walter Camp Football Foundation – a New Haven based all-volunteer group – was founded in 1967 to perpetuate the ideals of Camp and to continue the tradition of selecting annually an All-America team.
Walter Camp Man of the Year Recipients
2017 – Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech
2016 – Warrick Dunn, Florida State
2015 – Fred Biletnikoff, Florida State; Joe Andruzzi, Southern Connecticut State University
2014 – Jerome Bettis, Notre Dame
2013 – Matt Millen, Penn State
2012 – Herm Edwards, San Diego State
2011 – Harry Carson, South Carolina State
2010 – Will Shields, Nebraska
2009 – John Elway, Stanford
2008 – Morten Andersen, Michigan State
2007– Dick Butkus, University of Illinois
2006 – Mike Utley, Washington State
2005 – Dwight Stephenson, Alabama
2004 – Anthony Munoz, Southern California
2003 – Ozzie Newsome, Alabama
2002 – Jim Kelly, Miami (Fla.)
2001 – Mike Singletary, Baylor
2000 – Howie Long, Villanova
1999 – Gil Brandt, Dallas Cowboys
1998 – Lou Holtz, Kent State University
1997 – Calvin Hill, Yale
1996 – Lynn Swann, Southern California
1995 – Reggie Williams, Dartmouth
1994 – Dick Anderson, Colorado
1993 – Warren Moon, Washington
1992 – Bob Griese, Purdue
1991 – Mel Blount, Southern
1990 – Nick Buoniconti, Notre Dame
1989 – Paul Brown, Miami (Ohio)
1988 – Andy Robustelli, Arnold
1987 – Levi Jackson, Yale
1986 – Willie Davis, Grambling
1985 – Ricky Bleier, Notre Dame
1984 – Don Shula, John Carroll
1983 – Roger Staubach, Navy
1982 – Merlin Olsen, Utah State
1981 – Otto Graham, Northwestern
1980 – Gale Sayers, Kansas
1979 – Jack Kemp, Occidental
1978 – Floyd Little, Syracuse
1977 – Fred Dunlap, Colgate
1976 – Edward Krause, Notre Dame
1975 – Pete Dawkins, Army
1974 – Jake Gaither, Knoxville College/Florida A&M
1973 – Duffy Daugherty, Syracuse/Michigan State
1972 – Clinton Frank, Yale
1971 – Doc Blanchard, Army
1970 – Harry Kipke, Michigan
1969 – Pete Rozelle, San Francisco
1968 – Ted Blair, Yale
1967 – Hamilton Fish, Harvard