Former Fletcher High School standout Johnny Williams admits he was disappointed to not be selected last weekend in the two-day NFL draft after playing four seasons at Kentucky in the rugged Southeastern Conference.
Williams listened to all the calls from teams after the draft, but there was one that stood out.
"I talked to Coach (Jack) Del Rio," Williams said. "It was just the way they (Jaguars) sounded when I talked to them. They really seemed like they wanted me more than the other teams did."
Williams was one of 18 rookie free agents the Jaguars signed this week. He is the only one that is practicing 15 minutes from his old high school and has his two sisters cheering him on from the crowd. Williams' parents, Johnny Lee and Antoinette, passed away while he was in college but the family attended several Jaguars games while growing up.
"This is a childhood dream," Williams said. "I grew up watching the team."
##### Helping hand
Rookie Eugene Monroe's locker was placed right next to veteran offensive tackle Tra Thomas. Coincidence or not, Monroe had no problem with it.
"You sit back, you watch, you ask questions. And he's willing to help, anything I ask. I think that's pretty cool," Monroe said.
Jaguar with Kentucky Derby ties
##### QB finds a new receiver
No one inside the Jaguars lockerroom was happier than quarterback David Garrard when the club signed wide receiver Torry Holt late last month. Garrard met with Holt when he made his free agent visit and was hoping the two could become teammates.
"It almost feels like he's another coach out there," Garrard said. "He's a guy that's been around for a long time, and has done it well. He's been great for a long time, and he's learned a lot over his years. And he's good at communicating with the guys, good at communicating with me. He's had things where he's run things a certain way, and I don't think myself or the coaches want to mess that up for him. Because everything's pretty much the same, things he's done and things that we do."
Owens wants to give knowledge back
##### Champions Club gets up close and personal
Before their first team meeting on Thursday evening, the nine members of the Jaguars draft class joined general manager Gene Smith and head coach Jack Del Rio at the fourth-annual Champion's Club Draft Dinner in the west club.
The nine players took pictures and signed autographs for the 200-plus Champions Club members. Smith introduced the players and showed the crowd a video featuring all the drafted players.
"Character was extremely important for us in considering our draft selections," Smith told the group. "We have brought in a group of not only great athletes but fine young men who we know will represent the Jaguars and Jacksonville well."
Champions Club members volunteer to assist the Jaguars in season ticket renewals, sales and fan service throughout the year. The group recently concluded a three-month telephone calls campaign in which they made over 40,000 calls to encourage and thank season ticket holders for renewing their tickets. During the past three seasons, Champions members have made over 180,000 calls to help renew season tickets for the Jaguars and have added over 3,500 new season ticket holders to the Teal ranks.
##### The last word
"I think there's a real good vibe in our building right now. There's a freshness about what we're doing. New uniforms, new strength coach, there's a totally new weight room – there's just a freshness about where we are right now as an organization, understanding we've got a mountain of work to do. We understand that, but there's a fresh feel about it right now and it's good. It's a new year with new opportunities. So we're going to take that and get busy."
-- Jaguars Head Coach Jack Del Rio on the start of minicamp