He's a little guy in a big man's game, but Chad Owens believes he belongs.
"No doubt in my mind. I feel blessed to be here but, in a way, I feel I belong," Owens said as he finished the second week of Jaguars OTA practices.
He's 6,000 miles away from home where, as a high school and college star in his native Hawaii, he was a large presence on a small island. He was a star; always, he was a star.
This is the NFL, however, and stars seldom come in 5-7 packages. Owens acknowledges that fact but clings to his belief in himself.
"I feel God has given me a gift. He didn't give me height or blazing speed, but he instilled in me hard work. That's what's gotten me here today. I feel I'm strong for my size, but I'm just an average guy who works hard and hasn't let criticism affect me," Owens said.
Owens, a solidly-built 183 pounds, flashes quickness under a pair of impressive shoulders, the tattoos of which wouldn't normally fit on a young man of Owens' height. Through one mini-camp and two weeks of spring practices, Owens has fielded punts and kicks effortlessly. He's run with the wide receivers and has impressed everyone as one of those kids who can run forever.
But can he do it in on the big stage? Can he play with the big boys of the NFL? The Western Athletic Conference is one thing; the NFL is something else.
"I think I do have some skills in this game. I am who I am and this is the way God made me. It comes down to what's inside and I feel my heart outweighs any height God could've given me," Owens said.
At Hawaii he returned eight kicks (six punts and two kickoffs) for touchdowns. His 239 career pass receptions are a school record. How about 29 touchdown catches in 44 games?
"I think if I was taller I'd be a higher draft pick and I'd be a receiver, too. I think there are certain situations I could be good in, too, as a receiver," he said.
The Jaguars will be happy if Owens is "good" just at returning punts and kickoffs. The Jaguars were dead last in the league in the latter category.
"He's got some quickness to him. At this point, it's too early to tell. I need to see him in live action," veteran special teams coach Pete Rodriguez said.
"All I ask for is an opportunity. My skills will just take over," says Owens. "I'm just an average kids who's reached every goal I set out to do. When that final roster comes out and my name is on it, then it'll be complete. There's no doubt in my mind that I'm going to make it and be successful."