Perspective: Proud Central Gwinnett dad Kallon Sr. takes a liking to American football

Francis Kallon Sr is beginning to like this American football.

His son, a linebacker and defensive end at Central Gwinnett High in Lawrenceville, is big news in the world of college football recruiting, something that his father – a native of the western African nation of Sierra Leone – nor anyone imagined a year ago.

Francis Kallon Jr. is a 6-foot-6, 260-pound linebacker and defensive end with some 15 scholarship offers, from Georgia Tech to Southern Cal.

And Kallon Jr. had never played in a real football game until last month.

‘’Sometimes it’s like, ‘wow!’ ‘’ Kallon Sr. said Friday as he watched his son play against Brookwood, the defending Class AAAAA champions. “It’s like a miracle. We don’t know what to do but praise God.’’

Central lost 56-14, but Kallon Sr. hasn’t learned the agony of defeat from this foreign sport. His son is going to Georgia Tech. It is good.

Just two years ago, Kallon Sr. was an ocean apart from his estranged wife and youngest son. He and his wife, Rose, reconciled, but the son wasn’t so keen on coming to Georgia. Francis Kallon Jr. was living in London, a British citizen looking forward to a year of prep school, then college to study science.

But Kallon Jr. came, and the rest is college recruiting lore.

Kallon Jr. was the captain of his high school basketball team in London, and he played that sport at Central as a junior. Football coach Todd Wofford had heard of Kallon, not met him, when he tracked him down last spring.

Spring football practice is a time when college coaches make visits to see top prospects such as Central’s George Morris, a running back who has a bunch of Big Ten schools after him, and Trey Johnson, a junior linebacker who has committed to Auburn.

It was hard for coaches to miss the new kid with the size and strength of a power forward and agility of a soccer player. He had over 10 offers before playing his first game. His academic background helped lure offers from high-end academic schools such as Duke, Purdue, Stanford and Vanderbilt. His grade-point average is 3.6.

His real-game performances have been remarkable. Kallon Jr. had 10 tackles his first game, four behind the line of scrimmage. In his first four games, he had 37 tackles with five sacks. He’d blocked three kicks.

At first, his parents wanted no part of football. They worried he’d get hurt, and education came first.

Kallon Sr. was a pretty good athlete in his day. He was a track and field sprinter, but it was volleyball that earned him a scholarship to Tashkent University in the former Soviet Union, where he studied agronomy and earned a master’s degree.

His wife has a degree in nursing from King’s College University in London.

Sure that he’d win, the father made a deal with his son last spring.

“We said no. He said why,’’ Kallon Sr. said. “We said that will take you from focusing on academics. You’ll come home too tired to study. Then I said, ‘Well, you’re desperate to play, OK. I’ll give you an ultimatum.’ ’’

Kallon Jr.’s parents (Rose was unable to attend Friday’s game) said they’d let him play football if he brought home straight A’s and made over 1200 on his first try on the SAT. He nailed straight A’s and made a 1530 on his SAT.

‘’He’s not the type of son to give me headaches,’’ Kallon Sr. said. “We try to support him. He really loves football. At first, I had some reservations. Now, I like the sport. The more I understand, the more interested I am.’’

36 comments Add your comment

Black Kinight

September 23rd, 2011
10:58 pm

This couldn’t have happened to be a better kid.

GwinnettDad

September 23rd, 2011
11:09 pm

Glad to hear this heart warming story. Good luck to the Black Knights on the rest of their season.

David

September 23rd, 2011
11:16 pm

Good story….here’s hoping he has a change of mind and goes to…….Auburn.! The Auburn coaches were at his game tonight!…War Eagle !

Nick

September 23rd, 2011
11:29 pm

Can’t wait to see him at GT!

Tom

September 23rd, 2011
11:33 pm

How awesome that the perfect academic fit is right in his backyard….GT!

JL

September 23rd, 2011
11:33 pm

Great story, looking forward to seeing him on the Flats.

However, one can’t get a 1575 on the SAT. All scores end in zero.

GIVE ME A BREAK

September 24th, 2011
12:09 am

A true Yellow Jacket. He’s the pass rusher Tech needs.

Hayseed Dixie

September 24th, 2011
12:21 am

For as long as I personally can remember Georgia Tech has had a lot of students from other countries.

Which is something the fans of other schools are fond of reminding us- until they want those recruits.

I hope young master Kallon keeps his commitment, he’ll find a home at Tech, that’s for sure.

Todd Holcomb

September 24th, 2011
12:24 am

Thanks, JL. The SAT score is 1530, not 1575.

The Agent

September 24th, 2011
12:41 am

Fred

September 24th, 2011
12:47 am

Wow, finally someone on a GT sports team that can actually meet the minimum academic qualifications of the rest of the non sports scholarship students. Maybe he’ll even actually graduate……….

OTOH

September 24th, 2011
12:52 am

1530 or 1575, well done Kallon!

Steve Shelnutt

September 24th, 2011
12:59 am

Great story – saw this kid up close and personal tonight while covering the Brookwood-Central game for “another organization”, and damn, he is a big ‘un….and this is coming from a 6′5, 289-pounder who has seen a bunch of big ol’ boys in my day…..I hope he has a great season, and wherever he plays at the next level, enjoys great success there as well.

Terry

September 24th, 2011
4:21 am

You are true, Fred! That disparity is an issue at all universities. However, unlike most universities in the south, matching the non sports scholarship students at Tech is actually an accomplishment.

Todd Holcomb

September 24th, 2011
5:17 am

I just added to the story a little on the parents. (I was writing for the print edition originally and had a word count limit.) Both parents have degrees. The father actually got a volleyball scholarship to a school in the former Soviet Union, where he got a master’s. The mother was a nurse. The father isn’t that big, nor is his mother, not what you’d expect seeing the son, who towered over his three co-captains during the coin toss. But the dad was fast in his day. He ran the 100 and 200 meters.

The father said the family was still listening to other scholarship offers, but they were very impressed by Tech and don’t expect to change their minds. “They stressed education, education, education,” the dad said. “It wasn’t education, football, football, football.”

TVfan

September 24th, 2011
5:20 am

This young man is going to get a super education at Georgia Tech and he will make Georgia Tech proud. I know this is a sports page, but folks in the long run, education comes first and will carry you further in life than a playing field. I wish sometimes I could turn the clock back, tried harder and attended that school. You made the right choice Francis.

TVfan

September 24th, 2011
5:28 am

Todd Holcomb, thanks for that information. It is truely refreshing to hear parents and kids are focused on education over sports.

GeorgiaTechFan

September 24th, 2011
6:23 am

Continued good luck in your high school career. The Yellow Jacket Nation looks forward to your arrival at GEORGIA TECH.

taco

September 24th, 2011
6:50 am

You will cherish your degree from Tech even more than your sports accomplishments in the end. I can promise you that. It can be the magic ticket.

Lamont

September 24th, 2011
7:27 am

With those grades it’s hard to imagine him going anywhere but one of the Best Academic schools such as Stanford, Duke, or Vanderbilt. Schools where athletes earn degrees in actual areas of academis rather than being shuffled into the catch all Management degree where GT places 90% of their athletes. These nice newcomers may want to investigate that before allowing the young man to matriculate to GT, there he’s likely going to be “encouraged” to go the athlete route.

Ron

September 24th, 2011
7:28 am

He only needs to talk to Albert Rocker to find out how valuble a degree from GT is worth. The snake oil salesmen from the football factories won’t be able to sway this kid.

m foutouhi

September 24th, 2011
8:41 am

On the other end of the spectrum, it’s absolutely wonderful to hear of a family who emigrated to America to make a better life for themselves and contribute to the country. This sounds like an absolutely wonderful family and it thrills me to death for them to have this success. Best wishes
to all of you!

PerimeterCenterJacket

September 24th, 2011
8:44 am

Francis, the two words you need to know are “Go Jackets!”

Have a bloody brilliant remainder of highs school, mate. We’ll keep Georgia Tech prepped and ready for you!

Go Jackets!

ally

September 24th, 2011
9:05 am

What an inspirational story. It is nice to hear something positive about both athletics and immigration. Hard to believe it is all in one story.

Jacket Man

September 24th, 2011
9:38 am

“Lamont;” Obviously you are nothing more than a UGA troll and know nothing about the Kallon family or GA Tech. Let me see if I can enlighten you. GA Tech is one of the most internationally known, and respected, institutes of higher education in the world. The percentage OG graduates who go on to become millionaires from GA Tech is amongst the highest in the world. Francis’ family chose to relocate in Atlanta from England for a reason, and they are extremely family oriented. gA Tech is located in Atlanta. GA Tech offers the major(s) Francis is interested in pursuing.

Football is totally new to Francis (and his family) and he is being encouraged to learn as much about technique, rules, etc. as possible. Whether his high school coach thinks he’s trying to help Francis by expose him to other big time college “experiences” because he’s so new to the game, or he’s trying to help his program by keeping interest in his program by getting Francis out to several programs, or if the coach really is trying to undermine the commitment Francis made to GA Tech is unknown.

What we do know is that Francis and Paul Johnson are on the same page with what’s going on and everything is okay because nothing is going on in the back room behind Coach Johnson’s back; and especially because Francis just really is so inexperienced. Also, GA Tech has a great relationship with Francis an his family.

Lamont

September 24th, 2011
3:35 pm

Jacket Man
Why so touchy? Aren’t 90% of GT athletes in the Mgt degree program? Sure they are. It’s widely known GT athletes are ‘encouraged’ to take the less strenuous route. Citing one exception to the rule does not change reality. As for your assertion that a GT degree assures one of millionaire status, got any statistics to back up that wild exaggeration? GT one of the most acclaimed institutions in the world, really? GT isn’t rated in the Top 25 nationally, not even #1 in the state. GT is not as highly regarded as Stanford, Duke or Vanderbilt you know it, I know it, who doesnt know it? Its a nice school, a person can earn a fine degree from GT. Seems to me you are really overboard with a number of wild claims, especially the “millionaire” claim.

Hopefully the young man will visit other schools. If in the end he signs with GT good for him. I’m sure Fish Fry will revoke his scholarship if he dares visit another school, he’s such a first class man.

Son, I’m aware of where GT is located, in a high crime area. I wonder if the family is aware of the
huge number of muggings of students. There is one thing GT does lead the nation in……on campus muggings, and it ain’t even close.

Go jackets

September 24th, 2011
5:02 pm

Lamont…..your a idiot….that is all

Camden74

September 24th, 2011
11:06 pm

Is that score from the old or new SAT test?

Suwanee 0wnz

September 26th, 2011
11:05 am

With a 1530, the young man should consider Stanford, Duke, Northwestern, and the 3 Ivies – Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. Now, if he decides on GT, that is fine.

Based upon Mr. Holcomb’s article the young man is very bright, and the family has their priorities straight. As much as we love football and great fotball players in Georgia, the Mr. Kallon will only play football for at most a decade, but he has an entire life before him where his mind will be more important than his body.

Football will be his free ticket to the Big Show, but his most important performance will be in the classroom, not on the field. I am glad to see that frothing football fanatics are unlikely to distract him from his most important goals.

MBA Jacket

September 26th, 2011
4:20 pm

GT’s School of Management (Business School) is ranked higher than UGA’s business school.

[...] In fact, Kallon Jr. almost never got a chance to play football at all. After a smooth transition to basketball in the States — Kallon had been the captain of the basketball team at his school in London — the defensive standout had no particular interest in playing American football. Yet Central Gwinnett (Ga.) High football coach Todd Wofford finally won him over with a pitch that the c…. [...]

coolbreeze

October 5th, 2011
5:16 pm

Lamont – GT was ranked by U S News as the #7 technological university in the world last year. Grouped with MIT, and schools in London and Tokyo. Many jocks do major in some easier degrees. This happens at every school. There are notable exceptions. For one, Sean Bedford majored in Aerospace Engineering, and he’s at the University of Florida law school now.

wreckmaniac

October 5th, 2011
5:31 pm

Smart Money magazine in July ranked Tech # 1 in the nation in their formula called the “payback scale”.
NO ivy school was in the top 20. Surprizingly, UGA was #4 so great for the state of Georgia.
But as far as recruiting, this young man sounds like the Tech type but whereas dawg fans have orgasims

wreckmaniac

October 5th, 2011
5:34 pm

…….( as I was saying) about who they recruit its not the big deal to me. The big deal to me is the Paul Johnson high school offense that has run all over UGA for the past 3 years.

Baictpearlene

February 5th, 2012
6:10 pm

[...] In fact, Kallon Jr. almost never got a chance to play football at all. After a smooth transition to basketball in the States — Kallon had been the captain of the basketball team at his school in London — the defensive standout had no particular interest in playing American football. Yet Central Gwinnett (Ga.) High football coach Todd Wofford finally won him over with a pitch that the c…. [...]