Chasing the dream

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There's a kicker with a web site and an international story, a West Point fullback and a slew of others chasing the NFL dream.

There's a local quarterback, a local wide receiver, and speed mixed in, too.

Kicker Long Ding and Army fullback Collin Mooney – as well as former Jacksonville University quarterback Joshua McGregor and former  Ridgeview wide receiver Charles Gilbert – are among 27 players invited to participate on a workout basis in this weekend's Jaguars rookie minicamp.

 "I think it's a good group of workout-basis players that we were able to secure commitments out of," Jaguars General Manager Gene Smith said Tuesday. "They'll come in like any other undrafted players and get an opportunity to be evaluated."

The 27 workout players will join six players selected in the 2012 NFL Draft last weekend and 17 collegiate free agents signed shortly after the draft at a three-day rookie mini-camp that will be held at EverBank Field Friday through Sunday.  

The workout invitees are not on the Jaguars' regular 90-player roster.

With teams around the NFL competing for players to participate in the tryout camps, Smith said he was pleased with the level of talent the Jaguars attracted the past few days.

"We got a few linemen with measurables and some skill athletes with speed," he said.

The Jaguars invited 20 rookies and seven veterans as workout players, with former Bengals quarterback Jordan Palmer – the brother of Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer – among the veterans.

Perhaps the most high-profile signing? Long, a native of Qing Dao, China, who played at Division III Norwich University and who is trying to become the first player born in China to make an NFL roster.

Ding made 13 of 16 field goals this past season and did not miss from inside 40 yards.

"He performed in the Players All-Star Classic, and he was guy who certainly was deserving of a spot to get evaluated by our special teams coaches," Smith said.

McGregor, who started his career fifth on the depth chart at Jacksonville before finishing his career with 11,230 yards and 116 touchdowns, was the lone quarterback among the workout rookies.

Gilbert, who played two seasons at Webber International University, caught 89 passes for 1,941 yards and 25 touchdowns the last two seasons for Concordia-St. Paul. He caught 46 passes for 1,068 yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior.

Gilbert is among four rookie invitees clocked under 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash, with the others being Furman wide receiver Chris Forcier, South Carolina State linebacker Donovan Richard and Wagner safety Jeremiah Brown.

Mike Brown, who played quarterback at Liberty and threw for 2,664 yards and 18 touchdowns last season, will try out as a wide receiver. Forcier, who transferred to Furman from UCLA, also played quarterback in college, throwing for 2,265 yards and 23 touchdowns last season.

Mooney recently completed his military commitment and would be able to be on the team should he make the roster. West Point players often are unable to play professionally immediately because of their military commitment.

"He had a good career at Army, and certainly we're an offense that utilizes a fullback," Smith said.

Aside from Mooney and Palmer, other veterans signed include quarterback Jarrett Brown (West Virginia), tight end Ricky Kay (Central Florida), defensive tackle Dexter Larimore (Ohio State), defensive tackle Odrick Ray (Tulsa) and Collin Zych (Harvard).

Ray, who played collegiately at Tulsa, signed with the Jaguars as an undrafted free agent last August, and was released shortly after the final preseason game.

"I want to commend the scouts and the coaches working together on the drafted players, the undrafted players and the workout players," Smith said. "It's an outstanding group of players we're bringing in. It will be good evaluation and exposure."

The 20 rookie invitees:

*Taylor Allen (6-4, 250), TE, Endicott; Jeremiah Brown (6-0, 204), S, Wagner; Mike Brown (6-1, 205), WR, Liberty; Raymond Carter (6-1, 217), RB, Colorado State; Long Ding (6-0, 219), K, Norwich; Tony Dye (5-10, 201), S, UCLA; Chris Forcier (6-3, 213), WR, Furman; Charles Gilbert (5-11, 167), WR, Concordia-St. Paul; Dan Hoch (6-7, 330), OT, Missouri; Joshua Jones (6-1, 234), LB, Elon; Andrew Lanier (6-6, 290), OT, Virginia Tech; Joshua McGregor (6-2, 211), QB, Jacksonville; Anthony Mihota (6-4, 295), C, Virginia; Erik Rask (6-2, 227), LB, Pennsylvania; Donovan Richard (6-1, 215), LB, South Carolina State; Derrick Showell (6-4, 302), G, Walsh; Marcus Temple (5-10, 189), CB, Mississippi; Ronnie Weaver (5-10, 201), RB, Central Florida; Jay Wooten (6-3, 196), K, South Carolina; Jerrell Young (6-1, 202), S, South Florida.

The veteran invitees:

*Jarrett Brown (6-3, 225), QB, West Virginia; Ricky Kay (6-2, 245), TE, Central Florida; Dexter Larimore (6-3, 319), DT, Ohio State; Collin Mooney (5-10, 240), FB, Army; Jordan Palmer (6-5, 229), QB, Texas-El Paso; Odrick Ray (6-4, 273), DT, Tulsa; Collin Zych (5-11, 205), S, Harvard.

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