Last night I had the great opportunity to ask Georgia Tech freshman defensive end Francis Kallon a few questions. Kallon was a standout for Central Gwinnett High School in Lawrenceville, Georgia before signing with GT in February. The 6’5 270 pound freshman was a four-star recruit according to all three major recruiting services and was the 18th best defensive end in the country per Rivals.com.
Kallon’s path to becoming a college football player was an intriguing one to say the least. Francis moved to the Atlanta area from London a little over a year ago and arrived at Central Gwinnett High with zero experience playing American football. Due to some serious convincing from Central Gwinnett’s football coach Todd Wofford, Kallon began practicing with the team during the spring of his junior year. It was clear from the start that Coach Wofford had discovered something special in Francis, and 13 division one colleges would soon agree.
That’s right, Kallon acquired 13 scholarships before ever playing a down of football. He committed to Georgia Tech in June without ever competing in a real high school game. Despite some major courtship from the likes of Alabama, Notre Dame, and USC during his senior season, Kallon stuck with his commitment to the Yellow Jackets and was one of the highest ranked prospects in Georgia Tech’s 2012 recruiting class. Our interview can be found below.
Gridiron Digest: Despite having very little football experience leading up to your senior year at Central Gwinnett High, you managed to pile up some impressive statistics (70 tackles, 7 sacks, 3 fumble recoveries). How difficult was it to learn the rules and skills involved with playing organized football in such a short time?
Francis: “At first, it was a little challenging especially having no experience and having to learn all these plays etc. While everybody else was just playing the game, I had to work four times as hard as everybody else because I wasn’t only playing the game but I was learning all at the same time. What actually got me through wasn’t just my size, athletic ability or my faith, but it was knowing that I was allowed to make mistakes as long as they were done 100mph, and I DID MAKE MISTAKES might I add. I believe almost 45% of the 77 tackles, 9 sacks, 3 fumble recoveries and 5 blocked punts I made were made because I might have ran through the wrong gap or allowed myself to get washed right into the running back.”
Gridiron Digest: You earned scholarship offers from hordes of schools including Arkansas, Auburn, Tennessee, and Stanford. What made you decide to stay in-state and play for Georgia Tech?
Francis: “Well, I knew I would be close to church which meant I would maintain a strong spiritual foundation, as well as being closer to the ones I love. Family and friends would be able to watch me play and I would be (in) downtown ATL. What also stuck out to me was that Tech put their academics right on the table before they came to me with football which stuck out to my family and I. Furthermore I would be playing as a Ramblin’ Wreck from Georgia Tech a HELLUVA ENGINEER!”
Gridiron Digest: Did you seriously consider attending any other schools after committing to Tech?
Francis: “I was always open-minded after I committed, it was the least I could do for all the colleges that still showed interest even after I committed. At the end of the day, college football is a business and you never mix feelings with business and so I had to do what was best for Francis Kallon.”
Gridiron Digest: Roderick Chungong, Pat Gamble, Adam Gotsis, and yourself make up a formidable group of incoming defensive linemen for Georgia Tech and Coach Paul Johnson. Have you had a chance to meet any of these guys yet and talk about playing together for the next four years?
Francis: “Yes I have actually, Patrick Gamble is in fact my roommate, and Rod (Chungong) is always in my dorm room hanging out so we discuss playing together and the possibilities the future holds. My roommates are Pat Gamble, Anthony Autry and Justin Thomas.”
Gridiron Digest: You guys open up the season against rival Virginia Tech in Blacksburg on September 3rd. Has this game provided any extra motivation and incentive for the team during the offseason?
Francis: “I see it as the winner of this game is practically the winner of the ACC championship. Being at the game last year and seeing the tomfoolery that went on and how we were robbed a victory adds to the motivation and determination to be the last team standing. I know my boy Jeremiah Attaochu is ready!”
Gridiron Digest: Izaan Cross is the lone defensive line starter returning for Tech in 2012/2103. What sort of role do you hope to play in the defensive end rotation this fall?
Francis: “My main goal is to contribute in as many ways as possible, somewhat like a Jack of all trades but master of many. If that means I revolutionize the pass rushing game then so be it, or the special teams then I’m down.”
Gridiron Digest: Most college football analysts project GT to win around 8-9 games and compete for a division title this season. What goals and expectations do you have for the team and for yourself during your freshman season?
Francis: “All I see is a greater record than last year, a championship over VA tech, yet another bowl game appearance and history being made on North Avenue.”
Gridiron Digest: Finally, what’d you think of the race results between Justin Thomas and Broderick Snoddy? (note: freshman quarterback Justin Thomas and redshirt freshman A-back Broderick Snoddy held a race at GT’s indoor practice facility a little over a week ago to determine who was the fastest Yellow Jacket; both were 100 meter champions in high school. Snoddy emerged victorious)
Francis: “It would have been a tie if Snoody had stopped at 40 yards but he kept going. We also have to put into consideration that Justin has just arrived so he hasn’t been running up until training started a week from the race, Snoody had been working out for months prior to the race. I know that it would have turned out differently if Snoody had been a freshman racing Justin, and I say this because I have played in an All-American bowl game with Justin and seen what he can do.”
Big thanks to Francis for taking the time to conduct the interview! Best of luck to you this year my man