#InsideTheChart: Aug. 28, 2016

Fifth-year senior defensive lineman and London native Francis Kallon returns to the British Isles this week for Georgia Tech's season opener versus Boston College in Dublin, Ireland.
Aug. 28, 2016

Andy Demetra | Inside the Chart -

The new "Voice of the Yellow Jackets" Andy Demetra will offer Georgia Tech faithful exclusive stories, stats and anecdotes in his Inside The Chart column, which will run on Thursdays going forward at RamblinWreck.com.

When Francis Kallon learned that Georgia Tech would open the 2016 season in Dublin, Ireland, the redshirt senior thought someone was playing a joke on him. “I honestly didn’t believe it at first. I thought it was one of those myths,” he said.

If this week’s game against Boston College qualifies as a homecoming for anyone, it’d be Kallon, the Jackets’ London-born, 294-pound defensive tackle. Kallon, who moved to Lawrenceville, Ga., before his junior year of high school, says he expects a large family reunion at Aviva Stadium. Hopping from London to Dublin only takes an hour by plane.

“I’m reaching out to all my family, all my sisters and brothers, trying to see if they can come out and see me play for the first time ever,” he said.

(It also makes Kallon, to the delight of director of football operations Mike Huff, one of the roughly 30% of Yellow Jacket football players who already had a passport.)

Six years of living in the U.S. has done little to soften the London lilt in Kallon’s voice. When asked what he looks forward to seeing the most in Ireland, his thoughts immediately turned to the creature comforts of home.

“The currency,” Kallon replied, eyes twinkling. “Being back with Pounds Sterling. It’s going to be amazing.”

He then went into a rumination not uncommon for a defensive lineman: food.

“Just seeing the candies, things like that,” he added. “Instead of seeing Fanta, you see Ribena. Instead of seeing Sunkist, you see Tango, which is one of the big sodas in England. Just to see that will bring back that nostalgia, like, ‘Yeah, I’m a Brit.’”

 

 

It was an ironic answer, given how hard Kallon worked in the offseason to reshape his diet. Since the summer he’s sworn off red meat, opting for chicken or tilapia at the Edge dining hall. He says he eats so many greens now, “I wouldn’t say I’m vegan, but I’m heavy on the vegetables.” He eats salads every day, so long as they include banana peppers (“it has to have some type of taste”).

Kallon says he was inspired after reading former Atlanta Falcon Tony Gonzalez’s book All-Pro Diet.

“It’s definitely been beneficial to me, because I feel good. I feel really good. I want to keep it that way by making healthy choices,” he said.

Kallon hopes the better eating will lead to better results on the field, where he ends camp as a likely starter at defensive tackle. Since arriving on The Flats as a four-star recruit in 2012, the 6-foot-5 Kallon has enticed Yellow Jacket fans with his physical potential. But the process of learning a sophisticated defensive scheme – especially for someone who only played the sport competitively for one year before coming to Georgia Tech – has led to modest stats throughout his career. Kallon finished the 2015 season with 15 tackles in eight games played.

A smile may crease Kallon’s face in almost every interview but he knows the urgency to produce as he enters his final season. He also senses it in the rest of his defensive line-mates.

“From last year, we just have a chip on our shoulders as far as how we approach every day. How we approach practice, how we approach drills. Nothing’s taken for granted. We want to be the best that we can be every day.”

Come September 3, Kallon and his teammates will try to show off the fruits of that hard work (something he’s also eaten in bulk this offseason). If all goes as planned, he’ll have a large group of relatives ready to celebrate with him at Aviva Stadium.

How about a round of Ribenas?