Before Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson became a professional wrestling icon and Hollywood movie star, he was a football player just trying to make a name for himself. The millions of dollars in his bank account shows he made the right decision, but the 6-foot-5, 260-pounder was actually pretty darn good on the gridiron.
Johnson bounced around a lot in high school, attending schools in Hawaii, Tennessee and Pennsylvania. He also got in trouble a lot, though. However, he was a force on the football field as a defensive lineman and earned a scholarship to play for the University of Miami Hurricanes.
A college football career first put Dwayne Johnson on the map, and there are plenty of highlights to prove it.
Dwayne Johnson Sacks Charlie Ward
Johnson was primarily a defensive tackle for the Miami Hurricanes. He only made one start during his four-year career, but racked up 77 tackles and 4.25 sacks, according to ESPN. He was even on Miami’s NCAA national championship football team in 1991 and recruited by current LSU coach Ed Orgeron. So while he wasn’t a superstar, Johnson’s best play came against Florida State quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward.
On 1st-and-10 at the FSU 43-yard line, Ward took the snap from shotgun and began surveying the field. Meanwhile, Johnson faked like he was going inside, bounced outside, beat his man, and was all alone with Ward in the backfield. He absolutely pummeled him, of course.
Unfortunately, Johnson suffered several injuries and his big role was eventually replaced by future Hall of Fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp. He left a lasting impact, though.
“He was a highly recruited kid. We were excited to have him, he came to us ahead of his time. He was developed and was extremely quick. He was a hard worker and a humble young man.Advertisement
“Everybody liked him. He was easily coachable and everybody was impressed with him. He came in and played a lot as a freshman.”
— Ed Orgeron, via ESPN
Johnson never played in the NFL, but he signed with the Calgary Stampeders in the Canadian Football League after college. He was on the practice squad and was eventually cut from the CFL roster during the season.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Wrestling Career
Since football didn’t work out exactly how he hoped in the United States and abroad, Johnson decided to become a professional wrestler. After all, it was a family tradition, and he followed in the footsteps of grandfather Peter Maivia and father Rocky Johnson.
In 1996, Johnson made his World Wrestling Federation (WWF) debut under the name Rocky Maivia. He then became a household name in WWE and at WrestleMania as The Rock, and the rest is history.
Dwayne Johnson’s Football Roles
The Rock’s rise to Hollywood stardom has been impressive. He’s one of the highest-paid actors alive with his roles in “The Fast and the Furious,” “The Mummy Returns,” “The Scorpion King,” “Jumanji” and “Hobbs & Shaw.”
However, the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, native has also had prominent football roles, including in “Gridiron Gang” and the HBO series “Ballers.”
Although he was never an NFL player and didn’t win a Super Bowl, it’s safe to say Dwayne Johnson came out on top and has a pretty amazing highlight to post on social media for years to come.
This post was originally published on March 16, 2020.