For a training camp practice, this was about as dramatic an entrance as you can imagine.
Blaine Gabbert, the No. 10 overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft and the Jaguars' likely quarterback of the future, walked onto the team's practice fields just outside EverBank Field around 7:17 Thursday night to a rousing ovation.
It was his Jaguars and professional debut, and it came early in the Jaguars' first night practice of the 2011 training camp, with his teammates already going through drills.
This wasn't regular-season stuff, but for late July, it was pretty memorable.
"It feels great," Gabbert said. "I haven't played football in a while, so it's been a long time coming. It was great to come out here, throw around with the guys and build that chemistry with everybody."
Of the ovation, Gabbert said, "I paid a little attention to that. That was pretty cool. We didn't have big crows in practice in college, so it was definitely a different atmosphere out here. It was awesome. It shows how much they care, and how much they support me coming here and this football team.
"We're going to work hard in training camp to give them a good show this year."
Gabbert's signing came on the first official day of Jaguars 2011 training camp, and meant that the team now has signed all five2011 draft picks.
The Jaguars signed wide receiver Cecil Shorts (fourth round), cornerback Rod Issac (fifth round) and safety Chris Prosinski (fourth round) at various times in the morning, with each signing in time to participate in at least part of the morning session.
Offensive guard Will Rackley, the team's third-round selection in the draft, signed in the afternoon and participated in the evening practice.
"It's a little humid out here," said Rackley, who played collegiately at Lehigh. "It's still good. I got some good work. I have to come back tomorrow and work a little harder."
With the Jaguars releasing veteran Justin Smiley Thursday, and with veteran starter Vince Manuwai on the non-football injury list, Rackley worked with the starting unit in his first practice.
"It was fun," he said. "I'll roll with it. I'm fine with it."
Rackley said he didn't like missing the morning practice, and after receiving a playbook around noon, he spent most of the afternoon studying it.
"It was brand new," he said. "I went back to my room and studied it as much as I could."
If Gabbert's arrival wasn't the official beginning of an era, the fans in attendance treated it as much.
Gabbert, who played collegiately at Missouri, walked through a long corridor toward the practice field accompanied by a Jaguars team official. As Gabbert neared the field, fans – realizing the moment – began to cheer. As he walked on to the field, the crowd was standing and loud.
Gabbert acknowledged the cheers with a quick, modest wave, then jogged out onto the field. He worked sparingly, executing a pitch on his first play before throwing a deep route down the right seam to fullback Brock Bolen for about a 20-yard gain on his second and final play.
The play also was the last of practice, and drew another ovation.
"It was pretty cool," Gabbert said.
Gabbert said he wanted to get into camp as quickly as possible, though he didn't give his agent, Tom Condon, any specific instructions on the process.
"Things moved extremely quickly this afternoon," he said. "I'm extremely fortunate that I'm here and got some practice in tonight. I'll catch up tomorrow, definitely."