JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Before Austin Seferian-Jenkins started exploring the First Coast, he took a trip to the Middle East in February.
The then-New York Jets tight end went on a week-long excursion to Israel with a few other fellow NFL players and their loved ones. Seferian-Jenkins' mother joined him on the trip, which was set up by the American Voices in Israel program.
Seferian-Jenkins, his mother and the others on the trip got speak with Israeli government officials and explore historic sites within the country.
“I was just invited over there with another group of guys, Josh Norman, Avery Williamson and the Schwartz brothers and I just thought it was a great opportunity,” Seferian-Jenkins said during a phone conversation with First Coast News on Thursday.
“I could learn a little bit more about the world. I had kind of just been in the United States, I’d been to Paris and the Dominican Republic but to go over there and have so much history there, it was really, really cool and I was able to take my mom and that was something really cool too.”
It was a noteworthy experience for Seferian-Jenkins, who said his favorite part of the trip was hanging out with his mom during the journey. The trip enabled him to learn more about other cultures, which was an experience that he greatly appreciated.
“I think it just gave me a bigger perspective on the world,” Seferian-Jenkins said.
“Not just where I was, but I kind of saw things from a different angle, a different perspective. I met with a lot of parts of the Israeli government and I got to sit down and talk with them about a lot of different, broader ideas. It was really interesting, really refreshing and it was something I never thought I’d be doing in my life, let alone have mom there. It was really, really cool and I felt very fortunate that they allowed me to come, they wanted me to be there and I felt very honored.”
Following the trip, Seferian-Jenkins dealt with another notable experience: free agency.
While the rumor mill churned, the 25-year-old tight end kept a low profile. Instead of forcing the issue, Seferian-Jenkins awaited his potential opportunities at home.
“It was pretty chill,” Seferian-Jenkins said of his free agency experience. “I was just chilling at my apartment in Washington and was just working out and training and playing Call of Duty and then I would just get calls of where I want to go and people who were interested."
A few days into the free agency process, Seferian-Jenkins received a multi-year offer from the Jaguars. Following a quick visit, the young playmaker decided to make the move to Jacksonville.
“It was just a really, really good opportunity,” Seferian-Jenkins said.
“It’s a winning team, a team that is tough-nosed, physical, has a lot of grit and has a winning culture. It’s a team that’s going up and I really wanted to be a part of that. I wanted to be part of a winning team, I wanted to help build this thing and help them achieve – really everybody’s dream when they play football is to go get a championship.”
A few days after Seferian-Jenkins signed with the Jaguars, the team cut longtime veteran leader Marcedes Lewis. The move came as a surprise for most - including Seferian-Jenkins - but will allow for even more opportunity at the tight end position.
Seferian-Jenkins calls Lewis the best tight end to play for the Jaguars' franchise. He knows filling the tenured veteran's shoes won't be an easy task.
However, he is excited about the potential of an increased role within the Jaguars' offense.
“With that departure, now that I know – a few days later it happened – I was excited to [work with Lewis] but with that departure, it gives me an even bigger opportunity,” Seferian-Jenkins said. “But there was still an opportunity with him there. It was a cool deal and I’m very fortunate to be here.”
Seferian-Jenkins has been quick to embrace his new surroundings. On Tuesday, the free-agent addition performed double duty at two different charity events.
He served as a celebrity waiter at the Children's Miracle Network's Medicine and Miracles Celebrity Dinner in downtown Jacksonville early in the evening. Following that event, he drove to the other side of town to take part in Calais Campbell's first-ever Bowling Classic.
“That’s just who I am, it’s not like I’m doing anything special,” Seferian-Jenkins said.
“I’m just hanging out with my teammates, I’m supporting my teammates, I’m supporting my community. I really don’t think of it as a service, it’s just something you should do. It’s where I live now, this is my home now and I want to be part of the community, part of the city, I want to help my teammates, I want to let them know I’m there for them and that I support them in what they do. I think it’s just important. I didn’t really think anything of it, I just thought we have an off-day tomorrow, there are two events, I’m definitely going to go to both. What else am I going to do?”
Make no mistake, Seferian-Jenkins knows how to keeps himself busy.
Along with being a video game enthusiast, the young tight end enjoys connecting with fans on social media. Whether it's polling the public for restaurant suggestions or inciting music debates, Seferian-Jenkins is open to interacting with Twitter users.
“It’s been great, they’ve been super cool and chill,” Seferian-Jenkins said regarding his interactions with Jaguars fans. “There’s a lot of love out here in Duval and you can feel the excitement here.”
While Seferian-Jenkins is quickly making his mark in the community, he is also looking forward to growing into his role as a veteran in the Jaguars' locker room.
He has learned from the mistakes he made early on his career and hopes to help his younger teammates avoid similar situations. He will be surrounded by younger players throughout the Jaguars' locker room and his experienced perspective may come in handy during his initial season in Jacksonville.
“It’s crazy to think I’m a veteran, I’m only 25 years old,” Seferian-Jenkins said.
“Going into my fifth year, it just feels like time flies by but I just learned a lot of different things [in Tampa Bay and New York]. I learned how to carry myself, I learned how to be a professional, I just learned how to help other guys. Things I maybe didn’t do right that I could have done better at a younger age, now I can help other guys. It’s about educating the group and helping everybody win because if they win, I win. If I win, they win."
Seferian-Jenkins wants to make an impact on the Jaguars' already impressive roster. He believes he can do that by working hard and finding a role within the offensive system.
“My biggest goal is to just come in and work as hard as I can and contribute to this team and continue the success that we’ve had,” Seferian-Jenkins said.
“I’m not going to put [out] any numbers or goals that need to be specifically reached, those will be reached by themselves with how we play. I think it’s really, really important that I can come in and contribute, keep my nose down, I don’t say much, I just work hard and earn the respect of my teammates day in and day out and that’s the most important thing I can do.”
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.