ATLANTA — Thursday shaped up to be a massive night for the Georgia Bulldogs. One of the Dawgs' own, Travon Walker, was the NFL's top overall draft pick. He was selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Walker held his mother tightly and kissed her on the cheek as she shared a look of pride for her son, witnessing him get selected for the professional league. According to the UGA Athletic Association, Walker is the fifth Georgia football player to be selected first overall in the draft and the first since Matthew Stafford was picked first by the Detroit Lions in 2009.
11Alive's Maria Martin spoke to Walker ahead of his draft party for the big moment.
"It's a very special moment for me, it's something I've always knew I wanted to do. A dream come true. I've always wanted to do it, since I was 7 years old. It's truly a blessing," he said.
It was only in the last week that industry opinion largely coalesced around the belief that the Jags were targeting the UGA defensive end.
Virtually every major mock draft projected Walker - a Thomaston, Georgia native who started all 15 games for the Dawgs last season and starred with six sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss for a defense that led the team to the national title - would go No. 1.
That includes the projections of ESPN's Todd McShay and Mel Kiper, NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah and NBC Sports' Mike Florio.
"Those years at Georgia definitely set me up for the best," he said before the draft.
He told 11Alive he learned a lot under Head Coach Kirby Smart and said any NFL team that picks him up will get a hard worker.
"Someone who's going to show up and do what's asked of me to do by the team and coaches and just somebody who is going to give it their all everyday," Walker said.
For the Dawgs, Walker is the first of potential several early picks to celebrate Thursday night.