Dwayne Johnson first rose to prominence in WWE as popular wrestler The Rock and then translated his popularity into a successful film career. Things might have turned out differently for Johnson, however, if he remained loyal to football and pursued a professional career on the pitch.
He was a highly touted high school football prospect and got a full scholarship to play for the Hurricanes at the University of Miami. Did his high school success translate into college play? Here’s a look at how good Johnson is at football.
Dwayne Johnson was good enough to play college football
ESPN recaps Johnson’s college career, writing that he joined Miami in 1991, the year the team won the national championship. Ed Orgeron, the Miami defensive line coach at the time, recruited Johnson from the school, and recalled that they “were delighted to have him” because “he was developed and extremely fast. He was a hard worker and a humble young man. (According to ESPN article)
Orgeron shares that Johnson was “easily coachable” and “played a lot in first year”. In four seasons with the Hurricanes, the defensive lineman – who was 6-5, 290 pounds – played 39 games, but only started once. He recorded 77 tackles and 4.25 sacks.
Did Dwayne Johnson quit football because of Warren Sapp?
Johnson had potential on the football field, but unfortunately for him he seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Undefeated reports that former Miami teammate Kevin Patrick believes Johnson had the talent he needed to be successful, but “it turned out that he played on all-star teams throughout his tenure. With the Hurricanes.
Patrick praised Johnson by saying he “was a hell of a football player”, even going so far as to say “he was probably as good as anyone in the country at the time”. Johnson had some bad luck, however, because his teammate – and future professional football Hall of Fame – Warren Sapp was playing in the same place and kept Johnson out of the starting lineup.
After graduating, Johnson tried to play in the CFL. The Calgary Stampeders signed him, but he was only on the team’s training roster and was eliminated two months into the 1995 season.
Johnson cites Sapp as the reason he didn’t make it to the NFL. Sapp, who is one of Johnson’s nine teammates to reach the NFL, said “there was no competition” between the two. He says he loves Johnson, but the future WWE Superstar “couldn’t play” with Sapp. “If he told you anything else, he would be lying to you.” (from an interview with DJ Vlad)
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While not as far as he could have liked in football, Dwayne Johnson still enjoys the sport, which he showed in 2020 when he was part of an ownership group that bought the XFL after Vince McMahon’s second attempt to succeed with the league failed.
Sportico reports that Johnson partnered with his business partner and ex-wife Dany Garcia and RedBird Capital to buy the league for $ 15 million, just hours before it was auctioned.
XFL President Jeffrey Pollack said he “couldn’t imagine a better result for the XFL” than being sold to the Ownership Group, citing “their collective track record of success in entertainment, sports and the media ”as“ stellar ”.
After the deal was announced, Johnson took to Instagram to post his thoughts on it. “My dreams of playing professional football, however, never came true – this passionate adventure allows me to create opportunities for other players to show their talents. Now my partners and I are going to work – for the love of football. ”
If Johnson can have the same success with the XFL that he has had in WWE and Hollywood, the league’s third try will work better than the first two.