John Krahn is used to notoriety, what he’s ready for now is a career.
Thanks to a fresh promotional deal he signed with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), the 7-foot, 400-pound offensive lineman who spent the last two years playing with PSU Viking Football might get to live out a dream of being a professional athlete.
It just might involve having him dressing in character and taking some body blows in the ring.
“It was definitely a curve ball in the beginning,” Krahn says. “But it’s something I at least want to give a shot to. That’s a professional athletic job. That’s huge. Besides that, it’s something that the little kid in me has always wanted to do. I want to pursue this wholeheartedly.”
A huge fan of WWE as a middle schooler, Krahn has spent his high school and college career pursuing excellence in football, a journey that landed him in the media spotlight in high school when he was lauded as the largest football recruit in the world.
Things didn’t quite go as planned.
“I got myself in a hole with grades,” Krahn says.
He pivoted to junior college attending his hometown Riverside City College where he earned a 3.5 grade point average, respect as an offensive tackle on the football team and, eventually, a scholarship to Portland State.
He visited PSU for the first time over winter break and found a city he could enjoy. “It’s very different from where I grew up,” Krahn says. “You know Keep Portland Weird and all that. … California was all about living fast, but it’s just a bit slower here. It was kind of cool.”
PSU was also his route to achieve two major life goals: Play football for a Division 1 school and earn a college degree.
Krahn will finish his Criminal Justice degree in March, but his next step took a swerve toward the WWE when the NCAA enacted new rules last year allowing college athletes to sign “name, image and likeness” deals — NIL for short — and get paid for promotional work.
The WWE came looking for Krahn based on his oversized reputation. They wanted athletes who could be future superstars, those who weren’t going to be advancing in their current sport (“Kind of hurtful, but okay,” jokes Krahn), and who would sign on to be #NextInLine with the WWE.
After he finishes his schoolwork and graduates this spring, Krahn looks forward to a visit to the WWE’s training facility in Orlando, meeting organizational leaders and exploring contract opportunities.
He knows his future depends on him continuing to put in the physical work and he’s not willing to give up the opportunity to live out a childhood dream.
“Growing up, I’ve always been a super big kid, but I never thought something like this would be possible,” Krahn says. “I’ve got nothing to lose in this situation.”