22 in 22: J.T. Tartacoff

The 13th installment in the "22 in 22" series on ScarletReport.com profiles the speedy and energetic J.T. Tartacoff, who starred at Montgomery High (Skillman, N.J.) and will enroll at Rutgers later this month and play receiver. Tartacoff will enter Rutgers with an advantage on many of the other recruits since he attended every spring practice and consistently met with receivers coach P.J. Fleck.

PISCATAWAY -- During the postgame celebration in which New Jersey was raising its trophy after beating the Northeast 13-7 in the annual all-star classic at Rutgers stadium, no one was more vocal, more enthusiastic than J.T. Tartacoff.

Even after playing most of the game at safety, Tartacoff's energy was unmistakable. And even while conducting postgame interviews, Tartacoff remained a walking billboard for Red Bull.

A receiver at Rutgers, he should be a perfect fit for high-energy first-year Rutgers receivers coach P.J. Fleck, and it helps the two already have a strong relationship thanks to Tartacoff's perfect attendance at spring practice.

"I got a chance learn the offense, got a chance to know the receivers coach, got a chance to know some of the guys,'' Tartacoff said. "I'm really excited. I think I can come in and contribute. They have a great team, a great thing going and I expect to come in and win games in the fall.''

Tartacoff, who was the second commit of Rutgers' class of 2010, will enroll for the second summer session June 28.

The 5-foot-10, 180-pound Tartacoff offers and interesting dynamic for Rutgers' offense, and the knowledge he gained from attending spring practices, meeting with members of the coaching staff and talking to future teammates gives him an advantage heading into training camp as the Scarlet Knights search for a slot receiver.

Tartacoff brings speed – he is constantly clocked in the 4.3s in the 40-yard dash – and an ability to learn quickly.

In the New Jersey vs. Northeast all-star classic, Tartacoff started at safety but also dabbled in linebacker, a position he never played, and did so without blowing assignments.

Tartacoff in the all-star game
"Outside linebacker was completely new,'' Tartacoff said. "I never played that in high school before, but it was a lot of fun. I learned a lot from the coaches this week. I got a lot of good reps in.''

That should translate well when August training camp begins.

"A lot of college football is mental,'' Tartacoff said. "You have to come in and learn the offense, you have to know the offense. You can't be out there on game day making mistakes, or you won't play. That's basically all it is.

"Once I learn the offense, once I'm perfect in my routes, I feel like I should make a big contribution.''

Right now Tartacoff's concentration is learning to slot position, but knowledge of Rutgers' other receiving positions are needed as well.

"(Fleck) says I have to learn the outside, but I'm trying to focus on the slot and becoming the best I can be at that,'' said Tartacoff, who was asked if he knows how to block. "I do. I've been working on it with coach Fleck, on my power step, and I feel like if I want to contribute I have to be able to do all aspects of the game, including blocking.''

As a senior at Montgomery High of Skillman (N.J.), Tartacoff caught 40 passes for 588 yards and seven touchdowns despite constant double teams. He finished his career with school records of 105 receptions and 192 points.

But watching spring practice from close range gave Tartacoff an appreciation for the speed, strength and size needed to play at Rutgers.

"You have to get used to that hitting,'' he said. "You have to get used to everyone being a step faster. You can't be on your heels. You have to be attacking at all times. That's one of the best things about it. I feel that's how I play my game, and it's a lot of fun.''

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