JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s time to get organized.
The Jaguars hit the field on Monday for the first day of organized team activities. During this part of the offseason program, the coaches are allowed to have players do more work on the football field, but participation is still voluntary.
Despite it being voluntary, the Jaguars have had a high participation rate with only Cam Robinson, Badara Traore, Wil Richardson, Travon Walker, Jake Luton and Darious Williams not on the field for the first OTA.
During OTAs, players are not allowed to wear pads and contact is limited (Last season, the Jaguars were fined for violating OTA protocols). Even with only limited contact allowed, this is the time for players to lay the groundwork and begin to prepare for the season.
This time may be the most valuable for new Jaguars tight end Naz Bohannon.
Bohannon said Baseball was his first love, but he fell in love with the contact that came with both football and basketball. Bohannon was a highly-recruited high school football player with Power Five offers at positions including defensive end and outside linebacker.
“I was playing all over the place,” Bohannon said.
Ultimately, Bohannon chose to pass on the football offers and play college basketball at Youngstown State and Clemson.
“To tell the truth, I wasn’t really big about lifting weights and we were coming off some big years in basketball at my high school, and my city kind of rallied behind us, so I was living off that hype to see how far I can take it,” Bohannon said.
With his college basketball career coming to an end, Bohannon decided to put the shoulder pads and helmet back on and try to make it to the NFL.
“When I decided to make the switch, I knew that if I was going to have any chance of doing so, I had to go two feet in,” he said.
Bohannon took both feet and jumped right to work. He got in the gym, putting on weight and getting in football shape.
“When I first got out here again, it felt foreign,” Bohannon admitted. “It took being out here four or five days a week to get that natural feel back.”
Bohannon videoed himself running routes and working out to send to teams. That hard work paid off with an invite to try out for the Jaguars at rookie minicamp. Bohannon was able to take that tryout and show the Jaguars enough that they signed him to a contract.
Bohannon said he was extremely excited when the Jags told him they wanted to sign him.
“I kept it in with the straight face, but I got back to the hotel and let a little scream out,” he said.
Bohannon walks into a Jaguars building that has two players that have made the same switch in the past. Current Jaguars tight end Chris Manhertz and Marcus Pollard, a former NFL player and the current Jaguars director of player development.
With a pair of guys that have made the switch from basketball to football, it is easy to see why Bohannon called the Jaguars “a perfect thing fit-wise.”
Pollard has been instrumental in helping Bohannon get ready to hit the field.
“He has prepared me for what the game will be like, as far as telling me about the speed and making sure mentally I’m ready to go and take in all of this,” Bohannon said.
He knows he has a lot of work left to do if he wants to earn a spot on the Jaguars roster but he is ready for the challenge.
“I feel like I’m getting there, taking a step a day,” Bohannon said. “Get 1% better every day.”