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My interview with Brandon Linder (he's giddy with joy) after being drafted by Jacksonville Jaguars.

 

  (AFTER MIDNIGHT) -- Former Miami Hurricane and new Jacksonville Jaguars offensive lineman Brandon Linder and I just had a phone conversation.

  To say he's happy is an understatement.

   "A Florida boy, born and raised, and he’s staying home,’’ Linder, from Southwest Ranches in Broward County, said about himself. 

    “Crazy, right?,’’ said Linder, who was drafted 93rd overall -- the 29th pick in the third round -- on Friday night and leaves for Jacksonville Sunday. “I’m so happy right now. It was me and my family sitting down, no real expectations, and I get a call from Jacksonville and didn’t even know they had traded up with the Patriots to get a pick. I was ecstatic. My family and I were going crazy.''

   Linder, a guard who also played some tackle, will be coached by his former offensive coordinator at Miami -- Jedd Fisch. It would be hard to finda nicer, friendlier, more intelligent peson than Jedd Fisch, by the way. Linder is truly lucky. Fisch is a talented teacher and good man.

   “I can’t wait to get there and get to work. Coach Fisch is my guy,'' Linder told me. "He coached me for two years and I couldn’t be more excited to be working with him.

    "It’s been a crazy day. I talked to Jedd on the phone. He said, ‘Congratulations, we’re excited to have you as a Jaguar,’ when they were passing the phone around. I was at a loss for words. I can’t believe the opportunity I’ve been given."

   Linder said Jags’ general manager David Caldwell was the first person who spoke to him, then head coach Gus Bradley and then Fisch.

   "I didn’t know they traded up so when I heard it was the Jaguars I really didn’t know what was going on. Then someone on the phone said they traded up.

   “My parents were just sitting there filming me.’’

   Linder said he and his brother Nick, a fellow offensive lineman who will be joining the Canes as an incoming freshman next week, gave “each other a big hug.

   "This is just a childhood dream for both of us. I’m sure he’ll be accomplishing this down the road. He’s my best friend and my biggest fan and I’m his biggest role model. And we’re just in a complete state of happiness.’’

   Linder said he’s gotten so many text messages he hasn’t been able to read through them all. He said he is rooting for his draft-eligible teammates to be taken Saturday.

   “They’re going to be great picks for anybody that takes them,'' he said. "I know what great talents they are and can’t wait to see where they end up so I can cheer for them.’’

   SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN 

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