FVSU players have sights set on NFL

The phones of Eddie Young and Steven A. Jackson did ring back in April while the NFL conducted its annual draft.

Nobody on the other end was from a pro team offering either of the former Fort Valley State standouts a job.

But that hunt isn’t over for the defensive backs, who are working toward getting invited to some team’s camp later this summer.

Both participated in a postseason all-star game with hopes of improving their draft stock, which was admittedly low from playing on an NCAA Division II team that didn’t reach the playoffs or have any attention-seeking wins.

And a communication mixup that led to no players from FVSU being nominated for All-SIAC honors — Jackson led the conference with seven interceptions and was fourth in passes defended — further decreased the chance for attention.

So the draft came and went, and the pair started the climb to remain in the minds of NFL scouts.

“I didn’t get drafted like I wanted to,” Young said. “But my agent is working with some guys, talking to some Canadian teams and staying in contact with the NFL.”

Young, who played at Jones County and delayed the start of his college football career with a pro baseball career, has stepped up his workout routine. He recently signed on with Competitive Edge Sports in Atlanta.

CES has two main and six “express” locations, all in the South, and had almost two dozen clients drafted in April, including former Georgia defenders Asher Allen and CJ Byrd.

“I’ll be working out with Chip Smith for like a month,” Young said. “Training and getting ready for August so I can be in the shape I need to be in when the opportunity presents itself.

“Right now, it’s about waiting and about being ready when I do get that opportunity.”

Young has also been working out with Leon Hutchins, a Northeast graduate who ran track at Florida State about 20 years ago.

“He’s a good coach,” Young said. “He’s helped me out a lot. I’ve been my best since I’ve been with him.”

Young admitted that his senior season didn’t meet his hopes and expectations.

“I was hurt for a few games,” said Young, who graduated in May. “I didn’t get into good playing form until like the seventh or eighth game.”

Jackson joined the workforce last spring, working at Wal-Mart on Booth Road in south Warner Robins. But he couldn’t go any longer without football and trying to get his name out there for teams to see.

So in May, he headed north, very much north, to hook up with the Green Bay Blizzard in arena football’s second league, AF2, the former home of the Macon Knights.

“I was waiting to hear from some teams but just not playing football,” said Jackson, a Warner Robins graduate. “My agent said it would be best if I came up to Green Bay, try to get to learn to play arena football.”

He’s still working on getting signed with the Blizzard but is acclimating himself to the differences in arena football to regular football. While it’s drastically different, Jackson feels he has gotten better just working out.

“It’s so fast,” he said. “The field is so small, you don’t have that much room to move. And you have the receivers coming in motion, some of them are coming at you full speed.

“The game is mostly about angles, taking the right angles. I’m coming out of my breaks a lot quicker. You have to play fast.”

Jackson is also considering the Canadian option, and there are some familiar faces on CFL rosters this season, including Terrence Edwards (Washington County, Georgia).

Robert Edwards, Terrence’s older brother, followed his NFL career with a few solid seasons in the CFL, and former Central and James Madison standout Clint Kent spent a season with Montreal.

Others of note in the CFL: Gerald Davis, Valdosta State; Tray Blackmon, LaGrange and Auburn; Kelvin Morris and Odell Willis, West Georgia; Walter Curry, Albany State; Kerry Watkins, Georgia Tech; and John Mohring, Georgia Southern.

Jackson is at least getting a head start on northern weather. It was 35 degrees cooler Monday afternoon in Green Bay than Macon. But driving by legendary Lambeau Field is a nice motivation.

“I see it every day,” he said. “Hopefully one day I’ll be in there.”