All the right steps
NFL, former Tech standouts share lessons at camp

COVINGTON - Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson and Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson, among others, showed their skills to more than 80 future football professional hopefuls in Derrick Moore's Putting It Together Training Camp Combine.

The camp started Monday and will last through Friday.

Even though both Johnsons are NFL and former Georgia Tech players, they always have time to help kids.

"I like working with the kids and whenever (Derrick) Moore calls me to and needs me to do something for him I'm there. He helps me with my camp and I help him out with is," Calvin Johnson said.

"I have a receiver camp for upcoming ninth-graders to upcoming 12th-graders. We catch the ball, work on fundamentals. It's down in Tyrone at Sandy Creek High School. That's the high school I went to."

Helping young upstarts is nothing new for Michael Johnson. While growing up in Selma, Ala., and attending Dallas County High School, he would take his cousin to practice and take him through his workouts. While he was training, he would try to show his cousin what he learned to help him improve as well.

"It's a joy to come out and watch the little kids learn and play. I've always done things like this. From the time I was young, football has taught me to give as much as is required," he said. "I would try to teach them a lot of stuff that I was doing, hoping that they carry it on and it would benefit them so they could see the blessing and things that I have from working and doing the right thing."

Setting a positive example is something that both Johnsons stress. They feel that because of the position they have, being NFL players, they should do the right thing even if no one is watching.

"When you're wearing an NFL shirt on your back you have to set a good example," Calvin Johnson said. "A lot of guys don't understand that. They think they should go on doing what they've been doing, but you can't. You have to stay out of trouble. If you're in the spotlight, you're in it for a good reason."

Michael Johnson's feeling is that people are always watching so it's important to always set a good example because one never knows what little kid may see them do something bad and it could impact their life tremendously.

"With the position that we're put in, we're on a platform where we're seen a lot and we're in position where we could do a lot of good," he said. "Whether you want to or not, if you know you're going to be in a position where you're going to be seen I think it's important that you do the right thing and take the right steps. If you want to be an example or not you are because of what you do. I think that it's a semi-duty. Again, much is given and much is required."

Besides the Johnsons, former Yellow Jackets quarterback Taylor Bennett and defensive back Avery Roberson were also at the camp along with a few others - much to the excitement of Michael Johnson.

"You spend time with those guys and they become family. ... It was like a family reunion when we get together. When I heard they were here I got so excited because we were going to see each other and hang out," he said.

When asked about former Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Matt Stafford, Calvin Johnson is excited about the choice as their No. 1 draft pick.

"Stafford is looking good right now. Everything the coaches told me about him before the draft is good, he throws a hard ball; a tight spiral. That makes him a favorite amongst the receivers," he said. "When you throw a tight spiral it makes it easy to catch.

"You saw (Atlanta Falcons quarterback) Matt Ryan and the rookie quarterback that was at Baltimore (Joe Flacco) come in immediately and make a big difference. They led their teams to the playoffs. The defense helps but you never know."

Manny Fils can be reached at manny.fils@newtoncitizen.com.