Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is one of the most famous celebrities in the world. Currently, Johnson is known for being a top movie star with hits like Jumanji, Fast and Furious and Hobbs & Shaw. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, he electrified pro wrestling fans as "The Rock."
But before all that, Johnson was looking to be a star on the gridiron. His goal was to play in the NFL, although that ultimately didn't work out for him. But had it not been for failing in professional football, Johnson likely wouldn't be where he is today.
And it looks like 2020 will only be bigger and better for the former WWE Champion. He will star in the film Jungle Cruise, which will hit theaters later this year, and he will star in the Netflix film Red Notice alongside Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds. Red Notice is currently filming and a release date has not been set.
But how good of a football player was Johnson? Scroll down to find out.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was a former football star for Freedom High School in Bethlehem, PA. #TBTAugust 23, 2019
Johnson started playing football as a junior at Freedom High School in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He played defensive line and because of his towering physique, he was one of the top high school players in the area. College teams started to recruit Johnson, but he ultimately decided on one school.
In 1990, Johnson joined the Miami Hurricanes but didn't start playing in 1991. He was a key part of the team's success that year as they won the national championship. Johnson was a defensive lineman and was nearly a full-time starter.
One of the highlights of Johnson's career at Miami was getting a sack on Florida State quarterback Charlie Ward. This happened in 1993 and Miami ended up losing to Florida State, but The Rock was able to take down Ward who ended up winning the Heisman.
Johnson probably would have made it to the NFL if it wasn't for his former teammate Warren Sapp. Johnson was starting at the time but Sapp, who went on to have a memorable NFL career took his spot. Sapp originally was brought in to play tight end, but the coaches had him switch positions.
Johnson had the size to play in the NFL, but could not get in the field because of Sapp. In an interview with ESPN, Johnson said: "Yeah, the thing was, I had the greatest D-lineman in the history of the game playing in front of me. No. 99, No. 1 in your heart. I gotta tell you this: People are always asking me if I regret not making it to the NFL because of my injuries at Miami. Let me be clear: It had nothing to do with my injuries. I didn’t make it to the NFL because of one man. That’s Warren Sapp. Hands down."
Since the NFL didn't work out for Johnson, he decided to try out in the Canadian Football League. However, Johnson did not play a down in the CFL as he was cut. The good news for his fans is it motivated him to be a top star in the WWE as well as a top movie star once his wrestling career was over.
“All my dad asked me to do was to go to work and give a great day’s work, do the best you can every day. He told me, ‘Listen, I don’t care what you do, just be the best at it.’” – Ed Orgeron https://t.co/2mzPQimPnp pic.twitter.com/7d7FCEdEgH— Darrin Donnelly (@DarrinDonnelly) January 14, 2020
Wait, what does Ed Orgeron, the head coach of the LSU Tigers, have to do with Johnson? It was he who recruited the Jumanji star as he was the defensive line coach at Miami from 1988-1992. Orgeron told ESPN: "As a freshman, he came out, and back then we didn’t play too many freshmen. But he was very strong, he had some great practices and we were able to play him as a freshman, and at one point we thought maybe we’d start him as a freshman."