Calvin Johnson grabs a chair, turns it around and sits. His mother, Dr. Arica Johnson, has just finished giving a world-class presentation to five young men who have been awarded thousands of dollars in scholarships through her son's foundation.

The presentation is part of a two-day leadership conference and gala dinner in late June at the Renaissance Center in Detroit for 19 past and present scholarship winners. This session is called "Living Blueprint Transformation, Part 1" and it lasts nearly two hours. It's tougher than two-a-days and more intense than a graduate-school seminar. There's a Part 2 still to come that lasts nearly three hours.

Johnson has run the slide projector and has helped his mother moderate the session. But she's gone now and it's just Johnson and the five boys. Johnson has been standing behind a lectern during the session, but as soon as his mother leaves, he and the young men instinctively huddle. Johnson may be an NFL megastar, but at 28 he's only a decade older than the boys.

Johnson straddles the backward chair. He presses his chest against its back and begins to talk about his life and overcoming hardships. He tells the boys a story about getting a D in a class at Georgia Tech and how he refused to fail and was able to raise his grade with extra help from his professor.

But the young men in this group don't need this lesson. They are excellent athletes and scholars in their own right. One boy finally musters the courage to ask Johnson the question everyone wants to ask.

"When did you know?" he says.

Johnson doesn't understand and gives him a puzzled look.

Jake Barann is an All-State tight end from Allen Park with a 4.2 grade-point average. He's going to Harvard this fall.