Up next in our offseason recruit scouting reports is TJ Tampa, a 6’2 wide receiver from Saint Petersburg, FL.
The three-star prospect committed back in December after Georgia made a late push at him to play defense.
Tampa is one of three wide receivers in the 2020 class. Levi wrote about another one of them, Xavier Hutchinson and had high praise for him: “his tape shows that if and when that time comes, he has the skill, athleticism, and talent to be a bonafide number one receiver in a Cyclone passing game that ranked as one of the best in the country in 2019.”
As Levi said, Iowa State has had an elite passing game under Matt Campbell, and Tampa’s skill set should allow him to thrive in that attack, possibly early on in his career. In high school, he racked up 1,323 yards in his last two seasons to go along with 15 touchdowns.
I’m going to dive into some of his film in a bit, but before I do, everyone must watch this insane video.
HOW DOES HE JUMP THAT HIGH?!
Anyways, Tampa is obviously an incredibly athletic wide receiver to go along with good hands and elite speed. He uses a pretty good sized frame to bully average size defensive backs, but he uses his elite vertical to climb the ladder on taller defenders.
One weakness that I saw in Tampa’s game is some mechanics and route running flaws. This is a problem that is common in high school athletes that are extremely athletic, because they are able to rely on athleticism to make plays over lesser athletes. In order to compete at the D1 level, he will have to shore that up.
On this standard soft post route, he burns two defenders and is off to the races. The problem with plays like this is that there isn’t much to break down from a mechanics or route running perspective, but it’s easy to see his long speed and the balance required to withstand those two shoestring tackles on this play. This should bode well for his ability to make plays after the catch.
The type of receiver that Iowa State missed last season was the one who could go up and get a jump ball in the end zone. Of course, Allen Lazard and Hakeem Butler filled that role, but outside of some glimpses from Sean Shaw Jr., that area was vacant last season. TJ Tampa has the size and ability to fill that gap.
A lot of receivers have size, but few have the ability to use that size to their advantage like Tampa does in this play. Running a simple fade route, Tampa gets position by sealing the corner and placing his hands above the defenders. Once, he has an advantage with his hands, he’s able to go up and over for an impressive touchdown catch.
Earlier in the article, I noted that one of Tampa’s weaknesses is a lack of killer route running. While that is true for the majority of his film, I found this route he ran very impressive. Because these are just highlights and not full games, I don’t know what the playcalling prior to this play looked like, but I would guess that he was running deep streaks or posts, allowing for a comeback route to fool the defense.
Tampa found a pocket in the zone and ran a near-perfect route in order to pick up the first down. It wasn’t a home run play, but if Tampa is able to run routes like this in short yardage situations, he will get a lot more snaps as a freshman.
Here is an example of a sloppy route that I saw in his film. Even though he made the catch and the quarterback threw a good ball, Tampa had an opportunity to create even more separation on the route with a better jab step, but the standard cut allowed time for the defender to get back in the play.
Granted, he caught the ball for a 15 yard and was still able to find a hole in the defense, so I’m really jut nit-picking here. However, he will be going against much better defensive backs at the next level and will have to sharpen up his route running techniques to gain an edge.
CeeDee Lamb As a Cowboys fan, I’ve been watching a lot of film of the former Oklahoma receiver and first-round pick, and his game is fascinating. He’s one of the streakiest players of the last decade who displays a bunch of athleticism on the field.
This play here was extremely similar to a lot of Tampa’s film. It wasn’t necessarily anything that Lamb did to get the ball that was impressive, instead the breakaway speed after the catch is the shining part of his game.
He was arguably the best receiver in this year’s class, and that’s a bar that I don’t hold Tampa up to, but the unique talent and play style is undeniable. Tampa really is unlike any receiver we’ve seen at Iowa State and I’m excited to watch it.
As far as play style goes, Tampa will play a lot in the seams with a lot of go routes to get him in one on one coverage. In the long run, I think that he can be a refined receiver in all parts of the game, but as a freshman I think we will just see him in a lot of downfield plays.
I’m excited to see the type of impact that Tampa is able to make as a freshman, because I honestly could see him redshirting or having a first year similar to Sean Shaw Jr. I would tend to lean towards a breakout season, because he could very well be the most athletic receiver on the team already.
Whether he breaks out in his first year or not, Tampa is certainly one of the most talked about players in the 2020 class, and the staff knows it, so keep an eye out for number 25 in a few months.