By Tom James
TERRE HAUTE — For Reggie Wayne and Andre Johnson, it’s all about “The U”.
Wayne and Johnson, both former standouts at the University of Miami, are two of the elite wide receivers in the National Football League, and their styles are vastly different.
Wayne is the graceful 6-foot, 203-pound receiver with suction cups on his fingertips and known for his one-handed, diving catches.
At 6-3, Johnson is 228 pounds of raw power: He would just as soon run over a smaller defensive back as run past or around him.
Both guys are having monster seasons.
Wayne has hauled in a team-best 51 passes for 689 yards and six touchdowns through the first seven games of the season for the Indianapolis Colts. He’s averaging 13.5 yards per catch for one of the league’s two remaining undefeated teams and is on pace to shatter career-highs for catches in a season (104, 2007), yards (1,510, 2007) and touchdowns (12, 2004). And he has a 627 career receptions for 8,818 yards and 59 touchdowns.
Johnson, meanwhile, has team-leading 44 receptions for 697 yards and four TDs for the Houston Texans. He has 322 career receptions for 4,270 yards and 25 touchdowns. He is averaging 87.1 yards per game receiving since the start o the 2006 season.
The upstart Texans will bring a 5-3 record into this afternoon’s game with the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The pair are good friends. No, make that close friends. They work out together in the offseason on the Miami campus, along with the large group of former Hurricanes … Ray Lewis, Edgerrin James, Ed Reed, Frank Gore and Santana Moss.
They are part of the Miami family. Wayne’s relationship with Johnson is as an older brother.
“We work out together, we hang out together. Even though he’s bigger than me, he’s like my little brother. We do everything together,” the Colts ninth-year receiver said late last week.
“When you see how well he’s doing [in the NFL] now, it’s no surprise. Man, you see all the hard work that he’s put into it. We always told him that he was a freak of nature. He’s probably the best receiver in this league. He’s ballin’. As always, he’s ballin’.”
When Wayne was informed that the two of them are considered to be prime candidates for the Pro Bowl as the two best receivers in the league, Wayne tried to downplay his accomplishments. He, instead, deferred to his buddy.
“I guess it’s all about the U, I guess,” he joked. “I mean, that’s cool man. Just as I say [that Johnson is better], he’d probably say the same thing [about Wayne]. That’s all fine and dandy. But we know what the goal is. Being 1 and 2 [best receivers] doesn’t really do anything for you. I’ve been to Pro Bowls. He’s been to Pro Bowls. So I mean that’s nothing.
“It’s still early [in the season]. Just as we’re 1-2, we can also be 9-10 when it’s all said and done. That’s just the way it goes. I’m just glad that I’m in the mix with somebody that I hang out with and do everything with in the offseason. We’re doing something right, I guess. So why change it.”
While the competition between the two is friendly during the season, it’s when they get together during the spring and summer when things really start happening. It’s family time. It’s all about the U.
“It’s a family, it’s a brotherhood, it’s a fraternity, it’s everything. We really strive in that, staying close to each other. We’re all interested in what’s going on in each other’s lives. We share everything, making sure everything is on the up and up. We know each other’s families. That’s just how it is,” Wayne said.
“Whenever one’s doing something in the community or whatever, we all make it our business to attend. And vice versa. Once you go to the University of Miami, it’s goes beyond football. It goes beyond competing on the field. It goes more towards family. My family is your family. Everybody’s mine and together. That’s just how it’s been. That’s kind of how it is. It’s almost like a sad day when each of us leave for training camp. It’s cool in a way. You have a lot of other guys say that they wish that their schools were like that. It’s something that we take a lot of pride in and want to continue to keep it going.”