SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Fewer than two percent of college football players get drafted into the NFL, but a handful of players from the Sacramento area beat those odds. Two of them happened to be cousins from rivalry schools, Burbank High and Grant High. Both athletes walked different paths to the same goal.
“Our family is just bread different you know. You’re going to hear our names between Grandersons and Johnsons for a long time because we’re just freaks of nature,” said former Burbank High standout PJ Johnson.
Both PJ Johnson and Carl Granderson have been grinding on the turf their entire lives for one purpose, to make it to the NFL.
“All I can ask for is an opportunity, you know, coming out of Grant and being from Oak Park, California, it’s not a lot of opportunities, so we just got to go and find them,” said Granderson.
Carl found his opportunity, but it didn’t come in the seven rounds of this year’s NFL Draft. The former Wyoming defensive end was picked up by the New Orleans Saints as an undrafted free agent.
“I always had a chip on my shoulder and coming in as a free agent, I’m trying to compete for a starting spot,” said Granderson.
That’s why these cousins haven’t left the lab, because when you get to the league, actually making it onto a 53-man roster takes more than just learning from a playbook.
“Just because you get drafted doesn’t mean anything,” said Johnson. “I still have to work hard and work to make the team. I want to be a starter eventually, I want to be a legend, I want to be a Pro Bowler, I want to win championships, and be a Hall of Famer. You don’t get to those goals by being complacent and being happy just getting drafted.”
Johnson played at Arizona for one season before declaring for the draft. The defensive tackle was picked up by the Detroit Lions in the seventh round. Proving hard work works harder than luck.
“If no one else believes in you, you have to,” said Johnson. “That’s just something that I’ve always been taught. I don’t need the next person to believe in me, I believe in me. I can better myself you know.”
Johnson and Granderson will report to their teams on May 8.