The Jacksonville Jaguars’ 2012 Caravan made a stop at the Valdosta Mall Saturday.
A large crowd gathered inside the mall to get an up close and personal look at some of the team’s future stars, and four of the team’s cheerleaders.
“It is tons of fun to always come out and meet the people that come out and support us,” said Wide receiver Justin Blackmon, who selected by the Jaguars in the first round of this year’s NFL draft. “It is just a great way to come out and communicate and get people to come out and support us.”
Fans were able to enjoy various games, win free prizes and meet the players and cheerleaders through an autograph session. The line to meet the players extended well down part of the mall, a well wait well worth it says some fans.
“This is awesome,” longtime fan Chris Masok, 26, said. “I am glad to see them finally come to Valdosta. I have been a fan a long time, ever since they came into the league in ’95.”
Saturday’s event was the seventh and final stop on the caravan for the Jaguars. Other stops included Savannah and Waycross. Altogether the caravan reached over 5,000 fans and traveled over 1,200 miles.
Valdosta Mayor John Gayle started the two-hour long event with a speech welcoming the Jaguars’ players and personnel to the city of Valdosta.
Following Mayor Gayle’s speech, former Jaguar offensive lineman Tony Boselli, who continues to work in various rolls with the team, took to the stage. Boselli spoke to the large crowd comprised of football fans about the Jaguars’ initiative to reach out to the outlying areas and find support for the small-market team.
“We are saying ‘listen, this is your team. This can be the NFL team of Southeast Georgia and North Florida. We are committed on the field to winning,’” Boselli later told the Times.
Boselli also did his best at putting an end to the rumors that the Jaguars will be moving to Los Angeles, saying new owner Shad Khan is “committed to keeping a team and the NFL in this region.”
Boselli also talked about the team’s young talent and its drive to bring a Super Bowl championship to the city of Jacksonville and the region.
“We want to bring a championship to Jacksonville,” Boselli said. “We have a young team and we obviously didn’t have a great year last year, but we have a good group of young players that we feel can do the job for us.”
Before Boselli introduced the five players, he declared Valdosta “Jaguars Country,” saying that an area so rich in football should support the Jaguars like its own.
“This is the Jacksonville Jaguars, Shad Khan is committed, we are committed, and that is one of the reasons we are doing the caravan,” Boselli said.
For fans like Randy King, a six-year season ticket holder, the push by the team to reach out to the city of Valdosta was gladly accepted.
“It is great,” King said. “When you have the NFL, most teams don’t do all this stuff.”
Boselli also encouraged fans to attend the Jaguars’ Nov. 4 game versus the Detroit Lions, which will be the day the NFL franchise will honor the city of Valdosta.
Of the five players in attendance on Saturday, four have yet to even play in a regular season game for the franchise, including Blackmon, who despite being arrested last weekend for aggravated drunk driving was in attendance.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself and nobody can push me harder than me,” said Blackmon when asked about how he will handle the pressure of playing in the NFL. “Nobody can put more pressure on me than I can.”
Third round pick, punter Bryan Anger, who was more than pleased to attend the event and meet his new fans.
“It is awesome to see support outside of the state,” Anger said. “It is awesome to interact with fans.”
While the Jaguars struggled in 2011, offensively, the defense was a positive for the AFC South member. Jacksonville’s defense ranked in the top 10 of total defense and was ranked fifth in stopping the run. Now, fifth round draft pick Brandon Marshall is hoping to fit in and make an impact with the returning defense.
“I knew it was a young franchise and I knew it had a great defense last year,” Marshall said of the Jaguars. “I am just glad to be here and I just want to contribute. You just find your role, play special teams, and if they do have to call on you, because injuries do happen, then you have to be ready.”
Fans embrace NFL franchise
The Jacksonville Jaguars’ 2012 Caravan made a stop at the Valdosta Mall Saturday.
- Top Sports News
Gillespie, McPherson pleased with spring practices
Valdosta’s Rance Gillespie and Lowndes’ Randy McPherson both think their football teams got better during the recent 10 days of spring practice.
Then again, both coaches know their teams have a ways to go before the start of the football season.
VSU softball wins South Region, headed to nationals
For the third time in four years, and second in a row, Valdosta State’s softball team will play in the national championship tournament.
The Blazers won their third South Region championship Saturday, beating Alabama-Huntsville 8-3 in game three of the best-of-three series at Steel’s Diamond at Blazer Park.
Pop Warner Football coming to Valdosta
Pop Warner Football is coming to Valdosta.
The nationally known organization that puts an emphasis on education and developing American youth has been established in the Valdosta area and will begin playing football this August.
Vikings commit 4 errors, fall to Roswell, 5-2
The small things matter in baseball, especially in a winner-take-all game three.
On Wednesday, Lowndes’ baseball team made too many mistakes on the little things. The Vikings committed four errors that led to five Roswell runs and were eliminated in the Class AAAAAA state playoffs with a 5-2 loss to the Hornets.
VSU wins 7th GSC Men’s All-Sports Trophy
Look out Title Town, another trophy is coming to town.
Valdosta State’s athletic department was awarded a seventh Gulf South Conference Men’s All-Sports Trophy Tuesday, sharing the honor with West Florida.
The tie between VSU and West Florida marked the first time in the GSC’s 42-year history that a pair of schools shared the honor. Both schools finished the athletic season with 29.5 points, based on the conference’s point system that gauges athletic success.
VSU softball beats Tampa, 12-6, to host Super Regional
Kiley Rusen picked a good time to have a career breakout day for the Valdosta State softball team. Slugging her first-career home run and triple, while driving in six runs, Rusen led the charge as the Blazers routed Tampa 12-6 to advance to a second straight NCAA South Super Regional Tournament.
Vikings sweep Alcovy
Cory Pope gave the Lowndes Vikings everything they needed in game one of Wednesday’s doubleheader against the Alcovy Tigers. Then in game two, Lowndes’ offense came alive and provided plenty of support as the Vikings swept Alcovy 2-0 and 8-1 in the second round of the Class AAAAAA state playoffs at Noel George Field.
With the sweep, the Vikings advance to the Elite 8 — the state quarterfinals — where they will face either Roswell or Mill Creek, who will meet in a doubleheader today in Hoschton, on Tuesday.
Berrien girls’ tennis in Final Four
It’s been quite the year for the Berrien girls’ tennis program. And today, the Rebels will try to make their season even better.
After clinching a school-record 20th win in the Elite 8 of the Class AA state playoffs Thursday with a 3-1 win over state-power Bleckley County, the Berrien girls will make the schools’ third all-time appearance in the Final Four when they host Westminster today at 3 p.m. in Nashville.
VSU softball wins record fifth straight GSC championship
Valdosta State’s softball team claimed a record fifth straight Gulf south Conference tournament championship Sunday evening, erasing a 3-run deficit to beat archrival Alabama-Huntsville 4-3 in the championship game in Southaven, Miss.
The Blazers (41-10) became the first school in GSC-history to win five straight championships, a half-decade of dominance throughout the double-elimination tournament.
Blazers erase 4-run deficit, knock off DSU in 10th
Valdosta State scored six unearned runs, including two in the bottom of the 10th inning, to defeat No. 2 Delta State 6-5 in the second day of play at the Taziki's Gulf South Conference Tournament Friday evening.
With the win, Valdosta State has now won 23 of its last 27 games and will face West Alabama in the winner’s bracket of the GSC tournament today at 1 p.m. The winner will advance to the GSC championship series.
- More Top Sports News Headlines
- Gillespie, McPherson pleased with spring practices