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May 13, 2013

Tobais Palmer ready to conquer latest challenge



Former NC State wide receiver Tobais Palmer started organized team activities with the Jacksonville Jaguars today. He is with the team as an undrafted free agent, but wasted no time in making an impact during rookie minicamp, held the first weekend in May.

"The rookie wide receiver from North Carolina State stood out on Friday, and after missing Saturday with a stomach virus, he caught several long passes in better conditions Sunday," Jaguars.com senior writer John Oehser wrote on the website. "At a position with just two established veterans — Cecil Shorts III and Justin Blackmon — Palmer will be a player to watch in organized team activities."

"The two days that I did practice, I felt like I did pretty good," Palmer said. "I had the head coach and general manager come up to me during practice and after practice, they told me, 'just keep pushing it.'

"There's no doubt about it, I'm turning heads and getting a lot of people's attention by showing why I should have been drafted and that I do belong on an NFL team. They've told me to keep getting after it, keep competing and everything will work itself out."

The Jaguars have given Palmer the professional chance he hoped for, but didn't receive, in the 2013 NFL Draft, where he was passed over. However, that doesn't matter anymore, and Palmer is looking forward to showing he belongs.

"I just knew that once I got my foot in the door, I had to prove myself," he said. "It was disappointing at the time that no organization would pull the trigger and draft me because I had a draftable grade, but at the end of the day I knew what I could and couldn't do; I knew I could play in the NFL."

There were no shortage of suitors as the draft wound to a close — Palmer estimated that 20-25 teams called him to offer tryouts or free agent contracts — but the Jags showed their interest throughout the process and made the pass catcher know that the club valued him.

The head coach, general manager, vice president and offensive coordinator, all attended a private workout of Palmer and quarterback Mike Glennon in Raleigh, and the two parties stayed in contact.

"After that day, they kept a lot of interest in me, and kept in touch," Palmer noted. "I felt like choosing that organization over someone else's was a good decision because they knew about me by coming to work me out and see my first-hand. It just felt like a more welcoming place than any other organization.

"I give all of the respect in the world to the Jaguars' organization for giving me an opportunity to actually display my talent and be a part of their team. I think I can help the organization, I feel like the opportunity is there, my foot is in the door; I just have to take advantage and run with it. I'm not going to look back or live with any regrets at the end of the day; I'll put my best foot forward and do everything I can do to let them know that I want to be a part of their team."

Palmer noted that it was like a weight was lifted off his back when he joined the Jaguars, but his mission isn't complete yet.

"At the same time, I feel like I still have to make the 53-man roster," he said. "That's a little pressure on me right now, but I feel if I maintain and keep doing what I did in rookie camp, I should be fine."

Palmer has passed through many obstacles in his athletic career already, and he feels like being passed over in the draft is just the newest that he will clear.

"Not being drafted kind of made me question my athletic ability," he admitted. "Now, It's just another challenge. I've been through many challenges in my life — just to get to NC State, I had to go to Georgia Military College; that was a challenge and I succeeded. This is just another challenge I have to face. I want to be successful at the end of the day, make the 53-man roster and be a part of the Jacksonville Jaguars' organization. I hope I can bring some fire to the team."

Palmer expects to help the Jags as both a receiver and returner, where he set a single season school record with 1,130 yards in kickoff returns as a senior, the second-best mark in ACC history. He said he wished he had more time in Raleigh, but he'll never forget his home for the last three years.

"I feel like my time at NC State was a good experience," he said. "It was short, but sweet. It went by pretty fast, but I feel like the coaches gave me an opportunity once they saw what I could do. It's a blessing to be able to continue pursuing my dream, and to just be able to go through camp with an NFL team and display my talent. I'm still chasing my dream and trying to stay humble; I'll take it week-by-week."




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