Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson just might be the best player in college football.
NC State head coach Chuck Amato is certainly concerned with trying to stop Johnson.
"That's a problem out there," Amato said of Johnson. "Calvin Johnson is probably the best football player in the country, and he's big and fast. We've got to mix it up. You have to mix it up.
"He's got it all. He makes things happen. He's as good as there is. He's got it all."
Why shouldn't Amato be concerned? Johnson has had a stellar career, and he's performed well against the Wolfpack. In two games, Johnson has caught 13 passes for 177 yards, including a touchdown in last year's contest. He finished that game with 10 catches for 130 yards, but it was probably the one that got a way that sticks out the most.
In the final minute, with Tech trailing 17-14, quarterback Reggie Ball floated a pass to Johnson in the back of the endzone, and just as the wideout pulled it in he was hit by Pack cornerback Marcus Hudson. Hudson's hit caused Johnson to bobble the pass and it would be picked off by safety Garland Heath to secure the victory for State. The loss was extremely painful for Johnson and Tech, but he bounced back to finish the year as strong as expected.
This season, Johnson returns even bigger, faster, and better. Standing 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds, he's a physical freak at wide receiver. Just a true junior, Johnson has legitimate 4.4 speed and a 40+ inch vertical. His most impressive attributes might be his body control and hand-eye coordination, as he has an uncanny ability to catch even the most difficult passes, regardless of where the ball is.
A consensus prep All-American out of Sandy Creek High in Tyrone, Georgia, Johnson was rated the No. 3 wide receiver in the country by Scout.com and the No. 7 by SuperPrep after finishing his career with 80 catches, 1,479 yards and 18 touchdowns.
He entered his college career with lofty expectations, but most had to be surprised with the instant impact Johnson had on the Atlantic Coast Conference.
He first burst on the scene with a three-touchdown performance at Clemson in Georgia Tech's victory over the Tigers. At that point, everybody started to realize that Johnson was special, and he finished the year with 48 catches for 837 yards and seven touchdowns, earning first-team All-ACC and ACC Rookie of the Year honors.
During his sophomore year, Johnson totaled 54 catches for 888 yards and six touchdowns, again earning first-team All-ACC honors, this time as an unanimous selection. Johnson also was tabbed a consensus All-American, including a first-team selection by the American Football Coaches' Association (AFCA).
Now as a junior, he is looking to post even better numbers with a potential early exit to the NFL looming. Through eight games, Johnson has tallied 40 catches for 627 yards and nine touchdowns to help lead Tech to a 6-2 record and first place in the ACC's Coastal Division.
Johnson has benefited from the improved play of Ball and the emergence of tailback Tashard Choice and fellow wideout James Johnson. Choice, who has rushed for 657 yards and seven scores, gives Tech a threat in the running game and can force teams to keep an extra safety in the box. James Johnson (no relation) is starting to turn it on. He had a huge touchdown catch last week against Miami and now teams can't just double Johnson without worrying about the other side of the field.
Tech's offense is starting to become more than just Calvin Johnson but make no mistake about it, when the Yellow Jackets need a big play, they are going to look for No. 21. If it's in the redzone, you can count on them looking for No. 21. You can also bet that he's going to deliver. He always does, and that is why he is the best player in college football.