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Karim provides highlight moment


It was one of those moments when you know you had just seen something special. Those along the sideline stood in silence, heads turning to give each other that look, as if to say, "Wow!"

Deji Karim, the little running back from Southern Illinois the Jaguars drafted in the sixth round to return kickoffs and offer depth at running back, caught a short pass in the left flat, stuck his left foot in the ground and made a move back to the inside that was so sudden and so explosive that it left linebacker Justin Durant grabbing at air.

It was a moment those who witnessed it will remember for a long time, if Karim becomes the difference-making running back that singular move on the Jaguars practice field would suggest.

"He can mismatch a linebacker, a safety, a third corner," General Manager Gene Smith said. "He's smart. He graduated from college. You can do things with a guy like that."

In Karim, Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter may have a home-run hitting back that can take some of the big-play burden off Maurice Jones-Drew. Thursday, day three of OTAs, Karim flashed the speed and quickness that made him a lights-out running back and kickoff-returner last season at Southern Illinois.

"I think Deji is extremely explosive and quick. He's already demonstrated that he has another gear. He's going to be a nice addition to those other backs," Koetter said.

Karim lasted into the sixth round largely because he missed his junior season with a knee injury that didn't heal. It caused him to go into his senior season as an unknown. Smith found Karim at the Texas vs. The Nation postseason all-star game. It's the same all-star game at which Smith found defensive tackle Terrance Knighton last year.

"As I get used to these plays, I'll be able to do more. That's what I do. I'm out there trying to make a play, provide a spark," Karim said.

A high school star in Oklahoma City, bad grades caused him to begin his college career on the junior college level.

"I got there from not applying myself to the grades. I fixed that when I got to junior college. The grades stopped me from going to a big college: TCU, Oklahoma, Kansas, Kansas State. Once they saw I didn't have the grades, they scratched me off the list," Karim said. "I wasn't going to let the grades stop me this time."

At Southern Illinois, he graduated before his senior season began, which allowed him to focus all of his energy last season on football. These days, all of his energy is being focused on the Jaguars playbook.

"Once I get a grip on it, you'll see more of what I can do," he said.

He provided an impressive demonstration on Thursday.

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