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Desormeaux doing it the old way


Michael Desormeaux is old school, right down to the nasty-looking scar on his right cheek.

"Knife fight?" the reporter asked.

"ATV accident," Desormeaux said.

"If receivers wanna think it's from a knife fight, let 'em," the reporter said.

"I will," Desormeaux said.

The scar, however, isn't the only thing about Desormeaux that's old-school. Once upon a time, college quarterbacks who had to switch positions in pro football typically became safeties. Rick Volk and Nolan Cromwell are two examples.

In recent years, however, wide receiver has become the position of choice for college quarterbacks needing to find a new home in pro football. Hines Ward and Antwaan Randle El are two examples.

Desormeaux is trying it the old way and he's opened some eyes through the first 12 practices of this spring. At a position of concern for the Jaguars, Desormeaux has shown well enough through mini-camp and the first seven OTA practices to believe he's in the competition at safety.

"I feel like I'm getting better. I think if I keep progressing, I'll have a chance to make this team. It's an exciting time to come in here because there's so much change going on. I'm just excited to compete. I feel like I'm getting a fair shake at it," Desormeaux said following a Monday OTA practice for which the undrafted rookie from Louisiana-Lafayette had only one regret: dropping what should've been a sure interception.

Former quarterbacks are supposed to have good hands. At Lafayette, Desormeaux was a do-everything option quarterback who rushed for a thousand yards and threw for 2,000. He was a big player on a small stage and those types have long been successful in carving out NFL careers. Lafayette alum Brian Mitchell was certainly successful at it.

"I was pretty sure it wasn't going to be quarterback," Desormeaux said of the position he'd play in the NFL. "Safeties make a lot of calls. The body type fits, too, more than any other position on defense. I played safety in high school. It's a blast."

At 6-0, 215, Desormeaux has a raw-boned kind of physique that was kept lean for playing quarterback but appears to offer the potential for adding size. He runs a 4.6 but his instincts for the game may allow him to play faster than his 40 time.

"I kind of felt like they had a plan for me. I felt they had been loyal to me and wanted me to be here and you always want to go somewhere you feel wanted," Desormeaux said of signing with the Jaguars.

"Top competitor," Jags GM Gene Smith said of Desormeaux. "Your safety is the quarterback of your defense. He fits athletically but you know he's going to have a learning curve. The real test for him will be when the pads go on, to see if he can be a special teams player. So far, he's transitioned well. He's very instinctive, a lot of which has to do with he played quarterback. He sees the big picture."

"He knows what's going on," defensive backs coach Thom Kaumeyer said. "He's a smart kid. I think he's got a good chance. He's a (Tom) Zbikowski, (Jim) Leonhard kind of guy."

Desormeaux has used OTAs to give himself a chance to compete for a roster spot and maybe more, but what will he do after the pads go on?

"For someone changing positions, that's probably the big question. Football is a physical game and it's about who can be physical and who can keep their mental edge and still be physical," Desormeaux said.

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