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Hokie NFL Connection: Jacksonville Jaguars

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With summer in full swing Jay takes a look at the Hokies NFL connection starting with the Jacksonville Jaguars

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

n 1993 the National Football League awarded the 30th team franchise to Jacksonville, Florida. On September 3rd, 1995 the Jacksonville Jaguars played their inaugural game against the Houston Oilers. Since that time a number of Hokies have played for the Jaguars. Four Virginia Tech players have seen time in the regular season and playoff games, with Jacksonville. To date, the Jaguars have drafted two Hokies and signed two other Fighting Gobblers in free agency.

The first Hokie to play for the Jaguars was Shyrone Stith. Stith was drafted, by Jacksonville, with the 243rd pick in the seventh round of the 2000 NFL Draft after the extremely successful 1999 Virginia Tech season. (http://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/players/shyrone-stith-1.html) In 1999 Stith ran for almost 1200 yards and scored 13 rushing touchdowns before declaring early for the NFL draft. Stith played in 14 games for the Jaguars. He spent most of his time as a special teams player, where he returned 33 kickoffs. He totaled 785 return yards, a 23.8 yard per return average, and a longest return of 47 yards. Unfortunately, Shyrone’s success as a Running Back for Virginia Tech did not translate to the NFL. (http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/S/StitSh00.htm) He only recorded 20 attempts for a total of 55 yards, one touchdown, and a 2.8 yard per carry average. Stith only played his rookie season with the Jaguars before being cut by the team.

In 2005 the Jaguars signed standout Virginia Tech Defensive End, Jim Davis, as an undrafted rookie free agent. (http://www.hokiesports.com/football/players/2002/j.davis.html). Davis only played one game with the Jaguars, where he registered a single tackle and a single assist before being released in early 2007.

The Jaguars signed Nick Sorensen for the 2003 season, after he was cut by the St. Louis Rams. Sorensen, though originally recruited as a quarterback by Virginia Tech, found success as a Linebacker and a Safety during his last two seasons of eligibility. While he never started at either position for the Jaguars, he was a standout special teams player, and was the special teams Captain for all four years he played with Jacksonville. Sorensen played in 52 games with the Jaguars from 2003-2006. In that time he logged 35 tackles, 6 assists, and one forced fumble. ( http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/S/SoreNi20.htm) Sorenson was, without a doubt, one of the most successful Hokies to ever play for the Jaguars. He was cut before the 2007 season, after suffering a serious injury in the 2006 season.

Although Sorensen was very successful during his time with the Jaguars, arguably the most successful Hokie to play for Jacksonville was drafted by the team with the 120th pick in the fourth round of the 2004 NFL Draft. (http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/W/WilfEr00.htm) Ernest Wilford played with the Jaguars for six years, from 2004-2007 and again from 2009-2010. In that time he played 80 games and started in 44 games. He lined up, primarily, as a Wide Receiver, but also sometimes as a Tight End. In his six seasons with Jacksonville he caught 153 passes for 2120 yards, and 15 touchdowns. He averaged 26.5 yards per game, recorded a longest reception of 46 yards, and achieved an impressive 14.1 yards per reception. Wilford’s most memorable performance occurred during his NFL debut, during the 2004 season opener against the Buffalo Bills on September 12th. (http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/gametracker/recap/NFL_20040912_JAC@BUF) Wilford’s first NFL reception was a jump ball he caught for a touchdown, thrown by Byron Leftwich, as the game clock expired, to win the game, 13-10.

Wilford and Sorensen both played for the Jaguars, simultaneously, from 2004-2006, and contributed to Jacksonville’s post season efforts in 2005. Wilford was also part of the Jaguars 2007 playoff team. In three total playoff games, with the Jaguars, he hauled in eight receptions for 113 yards, and one touchdown. Although they are a relatively young franchise, two Hokies have already substantially contributed to the determination and early efforts of a team working to establish itself in the NFL.

Go Hokies