Originally created 04/22/01

Packers draft Aiken's Reynolds

The telephone rang at about 1:45 p.m. with the news. But it wasn't until Jamal Reynolds' name was called 10 minutes later on the NFL Draft selection show on ESPN that it all finally sunk in.

With the 10th pick during the first round Saturday, the Green Bay Packers selected the former Aiken High and Florida State standout.

The small gathering of mostly family members at Reynolds' father's Aiken homewas relieved when the selection was made.

Reynolds was the third defensive end selected in the first round, behind Missouri's Justin Smith and California's Andre Carter. Smith was taken by Cincinnati with the fourth pick, while Carter was the seventh selection by San Francisco.

"I hoped I would go higher," said Reynolds, who declined to enter the NFL Draft after his junior year last season to play at Florida State and improve his NFL stock.

"But I'm just grateful to be drafted. I can't complain."

While his selection brought some relief, contract negotiations are still looming. Reynolds will travel to meet with Green Bay officials on Thursday to begin working on a deal.

"It (draft) is over, but it's all just beginning," said older brother Diron Reynolds.

NFL Draft experts had rated Reynolds as a mid- to late first-round selection. He was the first defensive end selected by the Packers with their No. 1 pick since 1984.

Reynolds' mother, Tippi Johnson, said when she and his father, Bill Reynolds, began planning a family, they dreamed one of their children would play professional football.

Bill Reynolds was a star quarterback at South Carolina State before a foot injury cut short his career. Both of Jamal Reynolds' older brothers played collegiately - Diron at Wake Forest and Rashad at Rice - but neither made it to the NFL.

"God has truly been good, and he continues to bless us," Johnson said. "It was great to have all of them come through, and the last one (Jamal) get in.

"At first (before we got the call), it was quiet. We knew (he was going to Green Bay) after we got the call, but for them to announce it was something. He was truly happy, and I think a mother wants to see her son happy."

The family watched the draft in private before meeting with the media outside after the selection. Both Diron and Rashad said it was an emotional time.

"Even Jamal cried a little bit, and he doesn't show that much emotion," Diron said. "But we're glad it's over. I'm glad he got in the top 10."

The youngest Reynolds isn't a total stranger to Green Bay. His cousin, Walter Scott, who played at Strom Thurmond, was on the the Packers' practice squad during Green Bay's Super Bowl title run in 1997.

While Bill Reynolds would have liked to have seen his son in Atlanta or with the Carolina Panthers, he said he has no problems with him being the 10th selection and going to Green Bay.

"I think what happened was you had a large contingency of juniors to come out, and that changed the draft prospectus," Bill Reynolds said. "He was once projected to go at No. 2, but we're elated that he went No. 10. The legendary Vince Lombardi built that team, and Jamal won the Lombardi Award (last year).

"It would have been great had he went to Atlanta, but I think going to Green Bay is the best thing that could have happened to him. We have a lot of family and friends in Atlanta, and that would have been great. But there's pros and cons to everything."

Defensive linemen were hot commodities in the first round. More defensive linemen were taken in the Round 1 than any other position.Five of the nine selected were in the top 10.

Reynolds, who admits getting used to the cold weather in Wisconsin will take some getting used to, will return to wearing his high school colors in the NFL. His brother Diron takes that as a sign. "When you think about it, there's a lot of tradition (in Green Bay)," Diron Reynolds said. "He wore the green and gold at Aiken; he'll wear green and gold at Green Bay. He won the Lombardi Award. It all makes sense."

Reach Tim Morse at (706) 823-3216 or timmorse@augustachronicle.com.


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