NFL makes day for Johnson, Shiancoe

Cards pick City graduate

Giants grab Morgan star

Nfl Draft

Pro Football

April 27, 2003|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Penn State wide receiver Bryant Johnson settled in to watch the NFL draft yesterday, secure in the thought he would be picked in the first round. The former City College star never got too nervous.

Morgan State tight end Visanthe Shiancoe had all but given up on hearing his name called before today's later rounds.

In the end, each player got his wish.

Johnson became the third wide-out selected when the Arizona Cardinals made him the 17th pick of the draft. And Shiancoe, who blossomed as a senior during Morgan State's first winning season since 1979, was taken by the New York Giants as the 27th pick of the third round last night.

"From Morgan State to the New York Giants. I'm about to wake up," said Shiancoe, who grabbed the eyes of NFL scouts with his 6-foot-4, 250-pound build, his 4.62-second speed in the 40-yard dash and his 19.3-yard average on 26 receptions for the 7-5 Bears last fall.

"I had given up on [yesterday]. I was waiting for [today]," added Shiancoe, a product of Montgomery Blair High School who will join second-year star tight end Jeremy Shockey with the Giants.

"Then [Giants head coach] Jim Fassel calls me and tells me they're going to put me in a blue uniform. Me and Shockey are going to make a killing. I've got to start molding myself into the tight end I'm going to be."

By becoming the third wide receiver taken and the first product of City College ever taken in the first round under longtime coach George Petrides, Johnson reached another pinnacle.

"My dream is coming true. I knew if I prayed hard enough, the Lord would have something in store for me," said Johnson, 6-2, 214, a former Sun Offensive Player of the Year. "I've been playing football since I was 7 years old. I get to live out my childhood dream."

Johnson will be introduced at a Cardinals news conference tomorrow, then will get to work learning the Arizona offense, which will be led by former Ravens quarterback Jeff Blake.

Johnson felt Arizona was out to get him, especially after losing veteran David Boston to free agency.

"It was just a matter of the draft being so unpredictable. It was weird the way the defensive linemen ran like water [early in the round]," he said. "I thought I had a good chance of being the third receiver taken."

Johnson's stock rose during his last two seasons with the Nittany Lions, following a disappointing sophomore year. As a junior, he caught 51 passes for 866 yards. As a senior, Johnson showed the speed, versatility and sure hands that would elevate him among the draft's elite.

He kick-started his season with 147 yards receiving in a 40-7 rout over Nebraska on Sept. 14, then kept going. He wound up averaging 19.1 yards on 48 receptions, including four touchdowns, and added 41 punt returns for 528 yards and another score, finishing with an average of 111.2 all-purpose yards.

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