He may not have taken the most conventional path to the NFL, but Monticello High School alum Mike Brown made his dream a reality this past season.
After going unselected in last April's NFL Draft, Brown earned a contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars following a strong performance in a rookie try-out camp. Brown was one of the team's final cuts coming out of training camp, but spent most of the regular season on the Jaguars' practice squad.
In December, Jacksonville promoted Brown, a wide receiver, to its active roster, and he appeared in the final two games of the season.
"It was a dream come true to finally get a chance to step out there on the field and compete," Brown said Thursday.
Brown is currently home in Charlottesville for the off-season. On Thursday, he was running routes at his alma mater with Joe Sanford from the AthElite Factory.
Brown says working with the veteran players on the Jaguars this past season was an educational experience.
"Being around guys who have been in the league for 10-plus years. These guys have been seeing professional athletes coming at them since I was playing here at Monticello," he said. "So to get to grab knowledge from those guys, and just going against those guys every day, getting that experience. It's helped me a lot."
It's been an eventful off-season for the Jaguars organization. The team fired head coach Mike Mularkey after a 2-14 season in 2012, replacing him with former Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley.
Brown says he'll return to Jacksonville in early April for organized workouts and OTAs, followed by his second training camp as an NFL player.
"I feel like I'm starting a lot further ahead than I was last year," he said. "So just starting at a higher level, and trying to take my game to another level."