Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - No offense to Samford football, but the more people saw Jaquiski Tartt play in college, the more they wondered how the Bulldogs landed such a talent.
Just who was this All-American safety anyway?
Jaquiski (pronounced Juh-QUA-ski) Tartt only played in his senior year at Davidson High School in Mobile, Alabama, and what little film there was of him, college recruiters weren't seeing much of it.
His high school coaches went a little old school with Tartt. Once he made a verbal commitment to play at Samford, they told him it was important to keep his word, and they stopped showing game film of him, even though he had the skills to excel in the Southeastern Conference, let alone the Southern Conference.
After Tartt's superb career at Samford, NFL scouts have all the film they need to gain a read on him. He's considered a Top 100 talent who could be the first player from the FCS level to be selected in next week's draft, which begins Thursday (first round) and continues Friday (second and third rounds) and Saturday (fourth through seventh rounds) in Chicago.
Still raw in certain parts of his game, the 6-foot-1, 221-pound Tartt blends size and athleticism to play either safety position. The first player in Samford history to play in the Senior Bowl also displays good range and is an aggressive tackler when he gets to the ball.
"I think his size is gonna help as far as durability on the next level," said Tartt's position coach at Samford, Sam Slade, a member of Alabama's 1992 national championship team who went on to play safety in the NFL from 1995 to 2002.
"Being 220, when he has to come up and make tackles, he should be able to come up and do that on a regular basis. The other thing about him is, although he's a big guy with good size, he's also got really good athleticism, almost like a smaller safety (because) he's got good speed, he's good agility and quickness."
Tartt plays faster than his solid 4.53-second clocking in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine (he dropped it to 4.46 at Samford's pro day). His length (32 3/8-inch arms) is disruptive in one-on-one coverage as he collected six interceptions and had 20 pass breakups in his career. Sometimes overzealous to the point of overpursuing in coverage, Tartt has the skill set to be a safety who can cheat up toward the line of scrimmage to attack ball carriers.
A three-time nominee and two-time finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award, which honors the FCS defensive player of the year, Jaquiski Tartt has made it hard for anybody to overlook him.