CRESTVIEW — Chris Pickett is in Jacksonville living his football dream this weekend.
And if all goes well this fall for the former Crestview Bulldog, he will play in the National Football League.
Pickett, a 2010 CHS graduate who finished his college football career last fall at Troy University, has signed a free agent contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He is at the Jaguar mini camp this week.
Free agent route
A strong showing at the mini camp will earn Pickett a spot at this summer's Jaguar training camp and a shot at a coveted spot in the NFL.
The 5-foot-11, 205-pound Pickett hoped to be drafted in last week's NFL draft, but he isn't upset with the way things worked out.
"We (Pickett and his agent) were talking to Jacksonville and San Diego, and Jacksonville won out," he said. "Right now they need some cornerbacks.
"They are telling me if I show them what I can do at mini camp, I could find myself on the 53-man roster (for the regular season). This is just a blessing and an opportunity."
His best position
Pickett, a four-year starter for the Trojans, played cornerback and safety at Troy.
"When they (the Jaguars) talked to me, they said they like how big I am," he said. "They like my strength and everything and they wanted some bigger corners that will come down and hit.
"I'm more comfortable at corner anyway. I played there my first two years (at Troy). It feels a lot better to there because that's the position I'm comfortable playing."
Former coach's praise
Dexter Day, Pickett's former Davidson Middle School coach who is transitioning into Crestview High's principal position, isn't surprised that Pickett could go pro.
"I think it's a great opportunity for Chris," Day said. "He has paved that way by the work he has put into it, and the effort and commitment he's had to the game, whether it was in middle school or high school or college.
"He's just that way. He's a competitor. He's going to compete and he's going to do what he has to, to get what he wants to get. That's the reason he's out there today."
Pickett — who will compete with other free agents and drafted players — knows the mini camp offers no guarantees.
"My main thing is to look better than all their draft picks," he said. "That's going to get me my chance to get noticed and get my way on to the field there. I just want to be the best on the field this weekend.
"I'll be going against receivers the whole weekend. I want to be able to show them I win most of my one-on-one battles. When you play cornerback, the great cornerbacks win their one-on-one battles."
Former Bulldog football player Erick Harris was on three NFL teams' practice squads, but never appeared in a regular season game. If Pickett makes the Jaguars, he could become the first player in school history to play in the NFL.
Pickett, a Troy graduate with a degree in social science, hopes his story will inspire current and future CHS players on the field and in the classroom.
"I just want to be an example for these guys," he said at a recent Bulldog practice. "It doesn't matter if I'm the first, second, third or 20th (former Bulldog in the NFL); I just want to be a good example for everyone that comes from Crestview High."
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.