Tartt selected 46th in NFL Draft

By Sam Chandler, Sports Editor

 

NFL Hall of Fame defensive end Charles Haley stepped to the podium at Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre on Friday night prepared to issue a life-altering statement.

After a cordial introduction from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Haley made the following announcement on behalf of one of the league’s most storied franchises: “With the 46th pick in the 2015 Draft, the San Francisco 49ers select Jaquiski Tarrt, defensive back, Samford.”

And with those 18 words, one man’s life permanently changed.

Former Samford safety Jaquiski Tartt, an athlete who played just one year of high school football, became the highest draft pick in school history and the first Bulldog drafted since cornerback Corey White was selected by the Saints in 2012.

“I was ecstatic. It was crazy. I prayed to God to put me in the right spot and he came through for me,” Tartt said in a post-draft conference call with the media. “I was honestly expecting the third or fourth round maybe, but I ended up in the second. I’m just thankful they drafted me in the second round.”

Tartt, a three-time FCS All-American, began to climb up the mock draft boards after posting a flurry of impressive offseason performances. He tallied three solo tackles at the Reese’s Senior Bowl on Jan. 24, earned an invitation to February’s NFL Combine and recorded a 4.47 40-yard dash at Samford’s pro day in March.

At 6-foot-1, 221 pounds, Tartt possesses the ideal combination of size and speed to develop into one of the league’s elite safeties.

In San Francisco, he’ll join the secondary tandem of Antoine Bethea and 2013 first-round pick Eric Reid, a pair of prominent players who will surely aid in Tartt’s on-the-field maturation.

“They have a great group of guys in that secondary,” Tartt said. “I can learn a lot from these guys.”

As his skills develop under the mentorship of Bethea and Reid, Tartt will look to make an immediate impact on special teams.

“I want to get out on special teams and make my name on special teams,” Tartt said.

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