Aug. 21, 2014
By Jon Cooper
The Good Word
Playing college football at the Division I level can require a steep learning curve for guys that have grown up playing the game.
Imagine how steep that learning curve becomes when you are introduced to the game your senior year of high school.
That’s what defensive tackle Francis Kallon, who grew up in London, England, faced when he came to Georgia Tech.
He always had great athleticism — which he used in playing rugby. In his one season on the gridiron at Central Gwinnett High School in Lawrenceville, Kallon made 70 tackles, seven sacks, three fumble recoveries and two kick-blocks. He earned a four-star rating by Rivals and Scout, the latter naming him the 18th-best defensive end in the country.
But he learned that athleticism alone wouldn’t be enough when he got to Georgia Tech. At 6-5, 256 pounds, he faced a major adjustment as he found himself relegated from, projected phenom to project.
Always up for a challenge, Kallon patiently kept on grinding.
After redshirting his freshman year — “To be honest, I really wasn’t ready,” he said. “I needed more experience and more teaching to be ready, the way I am now,” — Kallon played in 10 games in 2013, making four tackles (three solo), including one in his first collegiate game against Elon, last Aug. 31. He’d add a multi-tackle game later in the year against Syracuse.
As he heads into the 2014 season, Kallon, a Dean’s List student and 2013 ACC Academic Honor Roll member off the field and now a solid 6-5, 296 on it, is showing signs that he’s getting a grasp of the position and is catching up to, if not getting ahead of, the curve. He’s second on the depth chart at defensive tackle behind junior Adam Gotsis and plans on seeing significant time and making a profound impact for the Yellow Jackets.
Kallon talked with The Good Word about getting a better push at the line, getting better by getting pushed by his teammates and coaches and getting beneficially heavier by not pushing himself away from the table at the dining hall.
1. THE GOOD WORD: How would you assess your training camp and what have you been working on?
Francis Kallon: The first couple of weeks have been very good. I’ve been working on my hands and my hand placement because that’s been a big thing. Back in high school I was used to just running up the field. I have to focus on my hand placement and where my foot goes and just mainly focusing on detail. It’s hard because you have to get the first foot. If my foot moves out my hand is going to move out. Everything’s coordinated so I can gain power and go get to an edge.
2. TGW: You’re currently No. 2 on the depth chart at defensive tackle, behind junior Adam Gotsis. How do you and Adam work with and push each other?
KALLON: He’s there for me whenever I need him. If there’s a play I’m confused about he’ll be there to help me and show me the ropes and I’ll just watch him, the way he handles his play and the way I handle mine. We work with each other and communicate well.
KALLON: That’s been a great advantage because they push me more than I can ever imagine. They want to bring out the best in me. I really appreciate that and I work to reach their expectations for me. I want to mature more as far as my knowledge of the game and make more plays and be a big factor in the success of this program. I feel like I’ve grown knowledge-wise and just knowing what to do and how to do it.
4. TGW: You’ve put on 40 pounds since you got to campus. How important was that for you?
KALLON: It was very much needed. It helped me get stronger. I can still move. I’m still quick off the ball.
5. TGW: How do you go about gaining 40 pounds, aside from hitting the weight room a lot?
KALLON: Dining halls. Going every day and just eating as much as I can, really. They actually know my name. Whenever I go in there they’re like, `Hey, Francis. How’re you doing?’ (laughs). I have to make sure I add color to my diet. There’s veg, there’s bread carbs for energy. So I’m mixing and matching everything. Not just one particular type of food.
BONUS: TGW: How did it feel to make Dean’s List and ACC Academic Honor Roll last season?
KALLON: That was very exciting. I didn’t expect it. I just had my head in the books and everything was very fortunate. I’m very grateful to be on the list. Academics are always important. To be successful off the field is just as important to me as being successful on the field.
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