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Jacksonville’s rookie WR Amba Etta-Tawo to play for his college coach, Keenan McCardell

By Jim Gehman, Player Engagement Insider

After spending four seasons, including a redshirt year, at the University of Maryland, wide receiver Amba Etta-Tawo went to Syracuse as a graduate transfer in 2016 and had a Stephen King season – scary good!

During his single season with the Orange, Etta-Tawo set 10 school receiving records, including most receptions (94) and most yards (1,482). His 14 touchdown catches tied another school record, and he was named to four All-America teams.

“I feel the key to my success was a lot of off-the-field things as far as off-season training and taking care of my body,” Etta-Tawo said. “That helped out a lot. But for the most part, it was the mentality I had approaching the game every week. I believe it had always been there, but it was more so an internal thing to take the next step and making the most of every opportunity.”

Nevertheless, when the NFL held its annual Draft in April, Etta-Tawo’s name wasn’t called. He immediately decided to use what happened as motivation. “That was probably the first thing that ran through my head as the Draft was coming to a close,” he said.

Etta-Tawo’s telephone was practically short-circuiting its call-waiting feature while the Draft was coming to a close, as well. “It’s hard to even say how many teams reached out,” Etta-Tawo said. “I was on the phone with a team and another team calls, it was hard to keep up.”

The experience would turn out to have a silver, no, make that a teal lining to it, once Etta-Tawo agreed to sign as a free agent with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“I have a connection with (Jaguars wide receivers) Coach Keenan (McCardell). We have a good relationship from college,” said Etta-Tawo, who played under NFL Legend McCardell for two seasons at Maryland. “He played the game so long and he’s talked about the game in the past and that’s helped a lot. He’s taught me to identify coverages. Our relationship has been more so that he’s done it and why not listen to a guy who’d been in the league 17 years. It’s an honor to listen to him and get his aspect of the game.

“And I admire (Jacksonville’s executive vice president of football operations) Tom Coughlin and what he’s done here. He’s obviously a part of the culture that’s forming here. I was thankful for Jacksonville giving me an opportunity, but in the long run I was going to do my job and one day I’m going to look back at it and there’s going to be a story to tell. So of course, I was upset, but I took it as the opportunity keep on pulling myself right.”

What does Etta-Tawo plan to do between now and when the Jaguars open training camp?

“Just staying in shape so that I’ll be able to do what I need to do,” Etta-Tawo said. “I’m working on every aspect of my game, running routes, catching, everything. I just want to increase my game and so I’m going to take that time that we have off and do anything that I can to be a better ball player.

“I believe they have an idea of what I can do and now it’s more of a matter of doing it each and every day. I just plan on being consistent with my routine and coming out and making plays. There’s a lot of things that I have shown over the years, but there are a lot of different things that I can show in the NFL. Whether you’re drafted or a free agent, it’s just a blessing to be one of these guys.”


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