Former Georgia Tech and Detroit Lions Standout Calvin Johnson Named Walter Camp Man of the Year Recipient

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

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