Fayson Boasts Untapped Talent

Illinois receiver Jarred Fayson, a former five-star recruit and high school All-American, recently had a pre-draft visit with Packers. Packer Report talked to him on Sunday for our 47th Packers draft exclusive.



It's the word du jour this time of the year, with the NFL Draft just 10 days away.

Jarred Fayson has that upside. That potential. And that's why the Illinois receiver made a pre-draft visit to the Green Bay Packers last week.

"It was amazing," Fayson told Packer Report on Sunday. "I liked it a lot. They have a lot of tradition, a lot of history, awesome facilities, and it was definitely a good feeling because you're around winners. The whole city's built on winning, and you could tell that and I definitely enjoyed it."

Fayson was a five-star recruit out of Tampa, Fla.'s Hillsborough High School. He became friends with Tim Tebow during the recruiting process and eventually settled on Florida. But after catching a total of 13 passes as a freshman in 2006 and sophomore in 2007, Fayson transferred to Illinois, whose head coach, Ron Zook, recruited him to Florida.

The move didn't work out as well as he had hoped. After sitting out 2008 because of NCAA transfer rules, he caught just 16 passes in 2009, his season stalled by a knee injury that sapped him of his breakaway speed. Following the 2009 season, Fayson's career took another hit when the Illini changed offensive coordinators, with Paul Petrino replacing Mike Locksley, who had taken the head job at New Mexico.

Finally, as a senior, he caught 38 passes for 355 yards and a touchdown. With running back Mikel Leshoure, the Illini ran the ball a whopping 69 percent of the time, and Fayson developed a reputation as a good blocker as a slot receiver.

"I definitely don't have any regrets about the decision I made," Fayson said of transferring. "It definitely worked out well because I've got an opportunity to live my dream of playing in the NFL. I also made the decision because I wanted to play more, which I did."

While Fayson never developed into a marquee performer at the Illini, all the ingredients are there for a successful NFL career. At 6-foot and 207 pounds, he's got excellent size, strength (21 reps on the 225-pound bench press at his pro day) and athleticism (4.38 in the 40, 39-inch vertical leap). Scouts appreciate Fayson's work ethic, character and intelligence. He's also returned punts with limited success.

"I feel that my best football is definitely ahead of me," he said. "I just can't wait to go out and get in the league and get with a good team and go to work."

Fayson said he looks up to Larry Fitzgerald, admiring how he "carries himself" on and off the field. But it's his brother who provides the ultimate inspiration. On June 29, 2008, Arius Fayson was riding a motorcycle when he crashed into the back of another vehicle and died at 26.

The date is tattooed on Jarred's chest to serve as a constant reminder to work hard and live the right way.

"He was basically all I knew — he was the man in my life," Fayson said. "He was the apex of my family. He raised me. It was a blessing to have that type of person in my life and I learned so much from him. He definitely kept me on the right track, kept me focused, kept me on a straight line. He meant everything to me."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport.

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