RU commit pressing the opposition

While attending a summer camp at Rutgers, Montgomery High receiver and Scarlet Knights commit JT Tartacoff got a tip from an assistant coach that has made him a bigger threat on the field. caught up with Tartacoff recently to find out how the season is going, what advice he got from a Rutgers assistant and his affinity for returning kickoffs.

The suggestion came from Rutgers receivers coach Brian Jenkins.

Montgomery High receiver JT Tartacoff already established himself as one of the top players in Central Jersey, but during a camp visit Jenkins gave some advice on how the Scarlet Knights commit could improve his game more.

"I always wanted to try and gain weight and get bigger and stronger in the weight room,'' Tartacoff said. "But after I went to Rutgers' camp I realized I had to work a lot on beating press coverage and getting hands off me. So, the last couple of months I've really focused on beating presses, beating double teams and working my hands to get off jams.''

The 5-foot-11, 186-pound Tartacoff is coming off a big game in a 41-21 win against Warren Hills.

He made four catches for 48 yards and also ran three times for 44 yards and two touchdowns, and now has eight catches for 127 yards and two scores for the Cougars (3-1).

"Coach Jenkins at Rutgers emphasized making a move, getting the cornerback off his v-line, and then using my hands to bat down his hands from touching you,'' Tartacoff said. "My moves are ok, but my hands, they're very raw. I have to wait to see the defensive backs' hands, and putting my hands in a place where I could combat what he was doing.''

Tartacoff said he noticed the difference in an early-season matchup with Bridgewater-Raritan. "Bridgewater put a guy right in my face, but all that practice paid off,'' he said. "I got off that line really well every time, and I was happy all that hard work paid off.''

Tartacoff also has 20 rushers for 102 yards and three scores, and also is making an impact returning kicks. He opened the season with a 91-yard kickoff return, and he is averaging 38.7 yards per return.

So what does Tartacoff enjoy so much about returning kicks?

"You hit a hole at full speed,'' he said. "There's not a lot of other times in the game when you can get a 10-yard, 20-yard head start and hit a wall at full speed. I find a lot of success in that. It's an adrenalin rush, 11 guys coming down the field trying to rip your head off. It's a great feeling once you get through them all and score.

"You can't be scared of being physical, you can't be scared of contact.''

Once he arrives at Rutgers, Tartacoff said he will play slot receiver and get a chance to return kicks.

"When I first talked to Rutgers they told me I would play slot, and also return kicks,'' Tartacoff said. "I've always loved returning kicks, and I always wanted to play receiver so Rutgers was the perfect place for me.''

Although Tartacoff's focus was beating press coverage, he also worked hard in the weight room. He said he increased his bench press, squat and clean while working with strength and conditioning coach Jim Griffin.

Scarlet Report Top Stories