COVINGTON -- Demetrius McCray may not have been the first player through the door, but he made it in before it closed.
The former Newton quarterback/cornerback was the overall 210th pick in the NFL draft having been taken by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the seventh round.
According to drafting forecast, McCray went in the seventh round like he was supposed to but that did not make the waiting any easier. McCray was talking to other teams but no one said what he wanted to hear until it was the Jaguars' turn.
"I was starting to get nervous because I had a lot of teams calling asking about free agency," McCray said. "I thought that everybody was locked in and I wasn't going to get drafted, that they were just trying to get me in as a free agent."
Even though the draft was ending, McCray was at his agent's office in Cincinnati who had been on the phone with Jacksonville personnel. Even though the Jaguars kept asking his agent if McCray's phone was ringing, it wasn't. That wait seemed to take forever like waiting for your turn to be rescued.
"I was expecting it but once it rang it was like a relief," McCray said. "We knew they had a pick when I was on the phone with them so it was like a weight taken off my shoulders.
"We were communicating for about three weeks. They told me they were highly interested but they just didn't want to put it out there. They just had to make the decision."
Not only was McCray and his agent happy when the call came, so was his family.
"They were jumping around and hugging me. I was still on the phone with Jacksonville trying to give them information and they could hear them in the background," McCray said. "They (Jacksonville) could barely hear me."
While playing football is a dream come true for McCray, who is one semester from getting his degree in criminal justice from Appalachian State University, McCray knows what is truly important and plans to go back to get his degree.
"I still have an internship to do then I'll be graduated after that. I always told myself that I was going to get a degree from App State and I will. I won't back down from that promise," he added.
Even though he beat the odds of getting picked, now is when the work begins as the Jaguars used their final three draft picks to select cornerbacks. Florida's Josh Evans was their fifth round pick with New Mexico State's Jeremy Harris going in the sixth round. But the extra competition does not give McCray cause to worry about his future. He actually likes his chances.
"It's actually the best opportunity for me to go there and play immediately and get to compete against other rookies. I think I have a good chance to play right away once I get there," McCray said. "I feel really good. They just brought in three corners so all of us are going to be out there competing for a roster spot. I feel good about making Jacksonville's team."
Between now and when he reports to camp on Thursday, McCray is not going to have a chance to bask in his accomplishment. Not only does he have to pack and move from his apartment in Boone, N.C., he is going to spend time with his family while studying Jacksonville's playbook.
"I'll spend some time with my family. They're going to send me a playbook for me to learn some plays before I get there," McCray said. "It feels pretty good. It hasn't quite hit me yet but I'm feeling pretty good right now."