Georgia Tech’s Jalen Camp drafted by Jaguars in sixth round

Georgia Tech wide receiver Jalen Camp (1) sprints toward the end zone for a touchdown in the first half of Saturday's game against Clemson at Georgia Tech.
Georgia Tech wide receiver Jalen Camp (1) sprints toward the end zone for a touchdown in the first half of Saturday's game against Clemson at Georgia Tech.

Credit: Hyosub Shin/hshin@ajc.com

Credit: Hyosub Shin/hshin@ajc.com

He was a two-star prospect coming out of South Forsyth High, rated the No. 320 wide receiver in the 2016 class. You can now call Georgia Tech wide receiver Jalen Camp an NFL draft pick, as well.

Camp was selected in the sixth round by the Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday, the 209th pick overall and 28th wide receiver. While his production (48 career catches) was far below almost all of his wide receiver peers in the draft, Camp likely intrigued scouts with his strong ball skills and his standout performance at Tech’s Pro Day, when he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds and recorded a vertical jump of 39.5 inches.

“I don’t think it’s truly hit me yet,” Camp told the AJC. “I know what has happened, but it doesn’t feel like it’s truly hit me as to what has happened. But I’m definitely excited.”

In going to Jacksonville, Camp joins three former Yellow Jackets, defensive end Adam Gotsis, tight end Tyler Davis and wide receiver Nathan Cottrell.

“I’m actually responding to Tyler Davis right now,” Camp said as he spoke on his father Richard’s phone. “I just got off the phone with Nate. We all expressed our excitement. Being able to work with ‘T.D.’ for one year and Nate for, what, three, four years, being able to reunite with those guys is huge. I’m definitely going to be in their pockets asking how everything goes down in Jacksonville. They’ll definitely show me the ropes, for sure.”

Much of his draft class may be familiar to him, as well. The Jaguars selected Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence with the first overall pick, and then came back and took Clemson running back Travis Etienne later in the first. Jacksonville took Georgia cornerback Tyson Campbell with the first pick of the second round. Fourth-round pick Jordan Smith, a defensive end, is from Lithonia High.

“I think it’s definitely exciting,” Camp said of potentially being a target for Lawrence. “Just being able to watch him play against him for five years (actually three), just seeing his arm talent, the type of leader he is, how he carries himself on and off the field, it’s definitely exciting to be able to work alongside him, for sure.”

He’ll play for coach Urban Meyer, making his NFL coaching debut after winning three national championships at Florida and Ohio State. Camp, who spent the day with family at a hotel in Atlanta, was able to speak with Meyer, who made note of a connection he has with Camp – his daughter Nicki played volleyball for Tech. Further, Nicki married former Tech wide receiver Corey Dennis, now the quarterbacks coach at Ohio State.

“(Meyer) was like, before we get to saying, ‘To hell with Georgia,’ he asked me how would I like to be a Jacksonville Jaguar,” Camp said.

They did apparently exchange the Tech rallying cry.

“I’m probably blurring out right now, but I do believe I did say that,” Camp said.

Camp is Tech’s first wide receiver to be selected since 2015, when DeAndre Smelter (fourth round, San Francisco) and Darren Waller (sixth round, Baltimore) were selected, following the footsteps of Yellow Jackets greats Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas.

Camp endured a stressful day following a night of little sleep. Camp said he tried to avoid watching television but couldn’t help himself from checking in as the day’s rounds (4-7) passed. Camp said that he began to hear from teams letting him know that they were interested in signing him as an undrafted free agent if he didn’t get selected. He appreciated it, but at the same time was irked.

“You want to get drafted,” he said. “Every football player wants to get drafted.”

He indeed was, one more piece of evidence that he has become far more than the two-star label he bore at South Forsyth. He hasn’t forgotten it, along with a comment from a fan on a Tech message board expressing disappointment that Camp was part of former coach Paul Johnson’s signing class. Camp’s father took a screenshot of the comment and sent it to his son.

“I’ve used that as a chip on my shoulder for my entire college career,” Camp said. “Just because I believe in myself, I believe in my talent. So that was something that drove me throughout my entire college career and then throughout this (pre-draft) training process. Not so much to prove people wrong, but to prove myself right.”

Mission accomplished.

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