Jaquiski Tartt: Prepped for the Sunday spotlight

Caroline Saunders

He’s been called the sleeper of the NFL draft, but Jaquiski Tartt has been impressing NFL scouts during his time as a three-year starting safety here at Samford.DSC_266

What makes Tartt even more impressive is that he only played one year of high school football.

Tartt played basketball at Mobile’s Davidson High School and picked up football in his senior year, just three weeks before the start of the regular season. He was slotted as a wide receiver, but was moved to safety when the starting safety went down with an injury.

It was there that he realized his true talent at the position.

He was given offers to play football at smaller Division I schools, but chose Samford when he had the opportunity to visit with his high school defensive backs coach, who was from Birmingham.

Tartt exploded onto the scene his sophomore year and has been a starting safety ever since. He was named an All-American and an All-Conference player three times in his college career, was a finalist for the Buck Buchannan Award and was the first Samford player to participate in the prestigious Reese’s Senior Bowl. He had an impressive showing at the nationally televised event. Playing amid some of the best talent in college football, he had three solo tackles, including one for loss.

“It was a great experience being able to play for my family in Mobile,” Tartt said. “It was something I will never forget.”

After tweaking his ankle in the Senior Bowl, he felt he was not able to perform to the best of his ability at the NFL Combine. Despite the setback, he came back strong in his pro day, running a 4.46 in the 40-yard dash and jumping 10-foot-3 in the broad jump in front of scouts from 24 NFL teams.

“I was able to come in here and show everyone why I am a top-ranked safety,” Tartt said.

While Tartt still has more developing to do, scouts have taken note and see great potential. Some think he may start his career at special teams, which gives him time to develop and acclimate to the faster pace of the league. Tartt’s following has been growing recently, garnering attention from notable sources around the country, including Bleacher Report’s Matt Bowen, a draft pundit whom Tartt made a lasting impression on.

“It was the first day of workouts at the Senior Bowl in January,” Bowen said, “and a strong safety kept catching my attention. NFL body. Long. Aggressive. Playing fast. He was like a missile running to the ball.”

A long concealed missile primed to erupt on the biggest stage.

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