JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Flashing a huge smile and wearing much more casual attire than he donned at the NFL draft, new Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. held up his No. 56 jersey while posing for pictures Saturday.
And ode to Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor? Not even close.
Try former college running backs Reggie Bush (No. 5) and Greg Jones (No. 6).
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”Those were two of my idols growing up,” Fowler said Saturday as the Jaguars formally introduced him.
So Fowler harkened back to his days as a high school running back and decided to wear No. 56 with the Jaguars.
It cost him, too.
Linebacker LaRoy Reynolds previously had the number, but the two worked out an undisclosed deal for it. Reynolds is now No. 52.
”I just approached him in respect and told him what it meant to me and we talked something out,” Fowler said. ”He let me get it, so I appreciate him for that.”
Pressed for details about the deal, Fowler joked that he gave Reynolds his gold shoes from draft night – the ones with spikes all over them.
Fowler dressed much simpler for his introduction Saturday. He wore jeans, gray sneakers and a striped, button-down shirt that had his initials embroidered on the cuffs. He wore a white suit with red trim and a gold and white bowtie in Chicago.
”I knew it was a day for me and I just wanted to talk to you guys,” Fowler said. ”It wasn’t a red carpet or anything like that. That was for the NFL draft. It’s something I always dreamed about as a kid growing up. I just wanted to cherish the moment and remember it for the rest of my life. It was a day I’ll never forget.”
The Jaguars expect Fowler to be a Day 1 starter, meaning he will replace 33-year-old veteran Chris Clemons.
Fowler had 14 1/2 sacks in three years at Florida, including 8 1/2 last season, and was the best player on a solid defense.
He wore No. 6 with the Gators, but since he couldn’t have that in the NFL, he turned to his idols.
Fowler grew up in St. Petersburg and wanted to be like Bush, the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner from USC, and Jones, a standout at Florida State. He played running back for years, until he outgrew the position in high school.
But he feels like he’s carried those skills with him to college and onto the NFL, where he was the third overall pick in the draft Thursday night.
”That’s why I think the way I think and the way I move,” Fowler said. ”It’s sometimes an advantage over a big guy because I used to move like that. That worked. I feel like that kind of helped me. It was meant to be I guess.”
Now, though, the Jaguars want him to shed a few pounds.
They would like the 6-foot-3, 265-pounder to lose about 10 pounds and become a better fit for the team’s hybrid end/linebacker position called ”Leo.”
Fowler doesn’t expect that to be a problem, even though he said he has a tendency to pack on weight.
”My body is like that,” he said. ”It can gain a lot of weight. I’m comfortable playing around 260, 265. We’re going to work with that. We’re going to go into camp and see where I’m at. I still have to work out. We’re on the road and all of that stuff so my body isn’t even close to where it should be at.
”Being able to get out at rookie minicamp (next week) and get back in the groove and work out and getting me back into playing (shape) and starting to eat right with my nutritionist and things like that. ”
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