MOULTRIE – Many Colquitt County football fans were watching ESPN on Thursday when, at about 10:15 p.m., former Packer Cameron Erving was selected in the first round of the National Football League draft by the Cleveland Browns with the 19th overall pick.
Colquitt County coach Rush Propst, who had a get-together at his home Thursday attended by coaches and former players to watch the draft, said those fans should take pride of the success of their native son.
“The community needs to be proud of the accomplishments of Cameron Erving,” Propst said. “In 2008, football was not necessarily his thing. It was not something he was sold-out on.
“But by the time he was senior, he could see he had a chance to do something.”
And after helping lead the Packers to an 11-3 record and a trip to the state semifinals in 2009, Erving, a defensive tackle, proved what he could do.
After earning a scholarship to Florida State, he was red-shirted in 2010 and then played in 13 games in 2011 as defensive tackle.
The next spring, he moved to offense, where he started 42 straight games, including 37 at left tackle and the last five at center.
Along the way, he earned a national championship ring and twice received the Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the Atlantic Coast Conference’s best offensive lineman.
His excellent work on the field and in the classroom has resulted in the chance to play in the NFL.
“And Cam’s always been very humble,” Propst said. “He gives a lot of kids in this community some hope, an idol to look up to.
“I am really proud and happy for Cam and for our town.”
In his 26 years as a head coach, Propst has had seven of his former players play in the NFL. But Erving is his first first-round draft choice.
And Erving has chance to become just the fourth former Packer to play in the NFL. Virgil Seay, a 10th-round draft of the Denver Broncos out of Troy State, played with Washington Redskins and Atlanta Falcons; Nate Lewis, a seventh-round pick by San Diego, played for the Chargers and Chicago Bears; and Antonio Edwards, a seventh-round pick of Seattle out of Valdosta State, played for the Seahawks, New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons.
After successfully playing both tackle and center at Florida State, Erving impressed the NFL with his versatility.
In fact, after Cleveland selected Erving on Thursday, Browns coach Mike Pettine his newest player as a “Jack of all trades, master of several.”
“That’s the beauty of kind of what his skill set is,” Pettine told ClevelandBrowns.com. “Here’s a guy that can play multiple positions. We’ll have to get that sorted out.”
The Browns, who were 7-9 last season, will return a starter at left tackle in eight-time Pro Bowler Joe Thomas. Left guard Joel Bitonio had an impressive rookie season last year.
Alex Mack, who missed much of last season with an injury, is expected back at center.
But Erving won’t be limited by position.
Browns general manager Ray Farmer also likes Erving’s ability to line up at different positions.
“From my perspective, I think our competitive advantage right now for the offense is the offensive line, Farmer told ClevelandBrowns.com. “To bolster that group, we took the guy that we thought had the most additional versatility and the skillset for who we wanted to be.
“Regardless of where he gets inserted, it is a positive for us.”