July 2, 2014 at 1:00 am

Jeff Janis' journey from Saginaw Valley State to Packers will be a tough one

Then-Saginaw Valley wide receiver Jeff Janis lands in the end zone during a game against Wayne State in October. (Duane Burleson / Associated Press)

There were a few false alarms Jeff Janis and his supporters faced on the third night of May’s NFL draft.

Surrounded by about 150 friends and family at the East Tawas bar Wingin’ It, Janis started receiving phone calls from team officials in the sixth round.

The first six or seven callers expressed interest in signing the former Saginaw Valley State wide receiver as an undrafted free agent.

“I was starting to get a little nervous,” Janis said during the NFL Rookie Symposium last week. “Finally, I got one from the Packers and they just said, ‘Are you ready to be a Packer?’ And that’s when I just knew.

“Then it showed up on the TV, and the whole place went crazy. It was awesome.”

Before the draft, analysts projected Janis — he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.42 seconds at the combine — as a fourth- to seventh-round pick.

He went in the seventh round, 236th overall.

And when Janis finally got the call, he realized he’d have the chance to work with receiver Jordy Nelson, after whom he tries to model his game.

“He’s one of the most fundamentally sound receivers that I’ve ever seen, and that’s why he’s really successful,” said Janis, who is 6-foot-3 and around 220 pounds, like Nelson.

“I’ve just been trying to watch him and everything that he does, and try and take everything in.”

During the Packers offseason practices, Janis said Nelson and Green Bay’s other veteran receivers, Randall Cobb and Jarrett Boykin, gave him and the other rookies pointers.

And he’ll need all the help he can get considering the competition in training camp.

Before selecting Janis, the Packers drafted Fresno State’s Davante Adams in the second round and Wisconsin’s Jared Abbrederis in the fifth.

“There’s 10 of us total, and who knows how many they’re going to keep?” Janis said.

“I’ve heard five or six, so it’s going to be tough.”

Janis said he likes the atmosphere and coaching staff in Green Bay, and he’s glad to be a 6½-hour drive from his hometown of Tawas City.

He’s also happy he was drafted after receiving so many promising calls on the last day of the draft.

“You get real excited at first because they start talking, and you’re like, ‘Oh, they’re about to pick me!’ ” Janis said. “And then they say, ‘Well, if you’re still available after the draft, we really want you.’

“So it was kind of a letdown. But you just get that one phone call, and they asked if I was ready to be a Packer.”

jkatzenstein@detroitnews.com
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