The Jacksonville Jaguars have signed wide receiver R. Jay Soward to a contract. Soward was selected by the Jaguars in the first round (29th overall) of the April 15-16 draft. Length and terms of the contract are not disclosed.
"I wanted to get my contract done and go into training camp ready to work and contribute to this team," said Soward. "I'm ready. I want to go to camp, do my best, learn from the best in Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell and try to help this team go to the Super Bowl."
Soward, 22, was a three-year starter and four-year letterman at Southern California, where he ranks third on the school's career lists with 161 receptions for 2,672 yards. He scored 23 touchdowns on receptions and 32 total touchdowns. In addition, he ranks second in school history with 1,414 yards on 56 kickoff returns.
He is the highest-drafted receiver ever by Jaguars and the fifth wide receiver drafted in 2000, following Peter Warrick, Plaxico Burress, Travis Taylor and Sylvester Morris. Soward will compete with veteran Reggie Barlow for the third wideout position with Jaguars, and he can also return punts and kickoffs. He is the first Jaguar drafted out of Southern Cal since Tony Boselli and Rob Johnson in 1995.
"It is a tribute to the organization that our No. 1 pick will again be signed before the start of camp," said Jaguars head coach Tom Coughlin. "I'm very glad to have R. Jay in camp on time, which sends the right message about his commitment. Now he can begin his rookie season with a clear focus on football, with the business side behind us. R. Jay has worked hard both on and off the field since the first minicamp and in the time the rookies returned for the offseason program. The timing of this is perfect with training camp opening next week."
With the signing of Soward, the Jaguars now have 84 players under contract. Still to be signed is defensive end Tony Brackens, who was designated as a franchise player.