Gerald Everett becomes 1st USA Jag drafted into NFL

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PHILADELPHIA – Following a two-year career that saw him finish the 2016 campaign among the top five in six different statistical categories in the program’s career record book, Gerald Everett became the first University of South Alabama football player ever to be selected in the National Football League Draft.

The Los Angeles Rams chose the native of Lithonia, Ga., with the 12th pick of the second round — the 44th selection overall — on Friday, the second of three days at the event taking place at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

“We are very excited about Gerald having the opportunity to play in the NFL, I know it is a dream come true for him. This a great time at this point in his life,” said USA head coach Joey Jones. “I’ve told every NFL coach that I’ve spoken to over the last year that Gerald is a can’t-miss guy. He is a young man who is going to be one of the most athletic guys they have on their team, a great person and a great competitor who is just a joy to be around.”

While Everett is the first-ever Jaguar to be drafted by an NFL franchise, Braedon Bowman and Wes Saxton — both tight ends for South as well — are currently with the New York Jets and Washington Redskins, respectively. He becomes just the eighth individual from the Sun Belt to be selected in the first or second round of the NFL Draft since 2002, and the first from the league to be chosen that high since 2013.

A two-time first-team all-Sun Belt Conference and semifinalist for the John Mackey Award presented to the top tight end in the country last fall, Everett posted 90 catches for 1,292 yards and 12 touchdowns receptions as a Jag; in addition to ranking fifth all-time in school history in the first two categories he stands third in the latter. He reached the end zone 16 times in all, also the fifth-highest total on USA’s career record list, while racking up 1,299 all-purpose yards.

After leading the squad with 41 receptions for 575 yards and eight scores as a junior, Everett caught 49 balls — tied for the most on the team — for 717 yards and four touchdowns in 2016 while helping the Jaguars earn an invitation to the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl. He played in the Reese’s Senior Bowl in January, contributing to the South’s 16-15 victory, before receiving an invitation to participate in the NFL Scouting Combine the first week of March.

Everett will be the 11th former Jaguar to sign an NFL contract since the program’s inception in 2009.

“This moment is extremely important [for the program] and something we have been looking forward to have happen over the last four years as we’ve been at the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision level,” Jones said. “Although Gerald is the first student-athlete to be drafted in the NFL from South Alabama, we do have others who have played in the league including at one position that has been extremely good for us — tight end — with Wes Saxton and Braedon Bowman both in the NFL. We’re real proud that Gerald will be representing South Alabama and the Rams.”