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With head coaching vacancy & No. 1 pick, intrigue surrounds Jaguars’ future

A Lawrence shirt is seen at Sports Mania in Jacksonville Beach.
A Lawrence shirt is seen at Sports Mania in Jacksonville Beach. (WJXT)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Now that the worst season in Jaguars history is over, fans and the organization are focusing on the future.

A big part of that involves a new coach and likely a new quarterback.

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence appears to be who fans want the team to select with the No. 1 pick.

When you look on the rack at Sports Mania in Jacksonville Beach, you can tell what’s selling four times as much as the rest of the Gardner Minshew II jerseys on the wall: T-shirts featuring Lawrence’s name with No. 1 or “Make Duval Great Again.”

Fans are passionately buying up any gear related to the potential first pick coming to Jacksonville.

“We are on our second round of them,” said Mathew Smith, owner of Sports Mania. “The city of Jacksonville has a thirst for a big-time quarterback like no other.”

But none of the Lawrence shirts are official NFL merchandise. Those can’t be produced until right before the NFL Draft, and Sports Mania has to preorder gear featuring who it hopes the team drafts. Smith said they’ll be gambling on Lawrence.

“If I put money on a craps table, there’s 6. There’s 8. Trevor Lawrence is No. 8. I’m putting all my money on 8,” Smith said.

Then there’s the question of who should be the head coach of the Jaguars. In Northeast Florida, there’s a lot of support for Urban Meyer.

If the coaching hire is Meyer, Smith said he thinks Meyer gear will sell more than any other coach’s because of his pedigree and national titles — two with Florida and one with Ohio State.

RELATED: Are Jaguars getting closer to making front office, coaching decisions? | Jaguars coaching search began much earlier than last week

Frank Frangie, the radio voice of the Jaguars, said he thinks Lawrence is practically a guarantee in Jacksonville, but it’s unclear who will be the head coach. New4Jax asked the play-by-play announcer if he thinks there will be disappointment from a lot of Jacksonville residents if it’s not Meyer.

“I think they know they’ve got Trevor Lawrence, so barring anything, you know, you’ve got the quarterback coming,” Frangie said.

Frangie said there are good alternatives to the Gators great, saying the other candidates are “all coordinators.”

“And all successful coordinators,” he said. “They’re all next in line. The way the NFL works is the next in line always gets the job. But I’d keep an eye on the Urban Meyer thing until it doesn’t happen.”

While there’s intrigue surrounding the team’s future, Frangie also told News4Jax he’s disappointed the Jacksonville City Council voted down a proposed deal to build a major entertainment complex in Lot J of TIAA Bank Field, saying he has been going to the stadium for roughly three decades and nothing surrounding it has really changed.

RELATED: Controversial Lot J deal defeated in City Council vote | Mayor Curry: ‘Vendetta over vision’ led to failure of Lot J deal

“I’m a little incredulous that we walked away from it,” Frangie said.

Frangie travels to every NFL Stadium in the county. He said that at every stadium, there’s some sort of vibrant night life outside, but not in Jacksonville.

“We have parking lots, and what disappoints me is it’s the same way it was 26 years ago. We’re not new at this. We’ve had this team 26 years — 26 years. And it looks the same way it did then: a stadium and a bunch of parking lots,” he said.

When asked if he feels the failure of Lot J impacts the Jaguars’ sustainability in Jacksonville, Frangie said he does not think it affects the team being in Jacksonville, but it would have helped.

About the Author:

Specializes in Clay County issues, general assignment reporting and stories off the beaten path and anchors weekend evening newscasts.