"I'm An Owl For Life"

Jaiquawn Jarrett rolled into Lincoln Financial Field Thursday night to play a football game – just like he had 23 times before as a member of the Temple University football team. But this time, Jarrett was doing it for the first time as a pro as the Philadelphia Eagles' second-round pick played against the Baltimore Ravens in the opening exhibition game of the 2011 season.

Jaiquawn Jarrett rolled into Lincoln Financial Field Thursday night to play a football game – just like he had 23 times before as a member of the Temple University football team.

But this time, Jarrett was doing it for the first time as a pro as the Philadelphia Eagles' second-round pick played against the Baltimore Ravens in the opening exhibition game of the 2011 season. Jarrett, a strong safety, intercepted a second-quarter pass by Tyrod Taylor in the 13-6 victory.

"It's real exciting, the only thing that really changed was the locker room … this one's much bigger and better," said Jarrett. "It brought back memories of all the games I played here. I'm able to start a new family here, and it's real exciting to come out here and play.

"You always get pre-game butterflies, but it was real exciting walking out of the tunnel. A lot of players said ‘You're back at home, baby. Go play ball.'"

Jarrett had over-the-top coverage on the interception, and when the Eagles pressured Taylor, the former Owl hauled in the overthrow.

"The d-line did a great job up front and (Taylor) threw me one," said Jarrett, who entered the game as the backup to Kurt Coleman at strong safety. "I read the quarterback and receiver, he was running the dig. The corner was underneath him and I was over top, and the d-line and linebackers put a lot of pressure on him and it fell right in my lap."

Jarrett is competing with Coleman for the starting position, and the rookie wasn't helped any by the lockout, which was settled right before training camp and cost players the entire offseason. Rookies were hurt the most as they now have a crash course in schemes and plays they normally would have learned over months.

"I couldn't sulk in it, the past is the past," said Jarrett. "The vets help me, I can ask any questions. A lot of things fly over my head, but my expectations are to continue to get better every day, go out there, compete, work my tail off every time I get an opportunity to, continue to keep studying and learning. Kurt, Nate (Allen), Marlin (Jackson) are all teaching me how to be a professional."

Despite the short amount of time to showcase his skills to the coaches, Jarrett is already starting to make an impression. He brought a reputation as a ferocious hitter to the Eagles.

"He's physical, he's tough, and he's athletic," said Eagles defensive coordinator Juan Castillo. "Now that we're playing (games), we're going to see a little more of (what he can do)."

The benefit of being drafted by the Eagles is it's a short ride down Broad Street whenever Jarrett wants to visit his alma mater. He was an observer at a recent Owls practice and plans to be a regular.

"One of the great things about playing in the city, I can always go back, watch them practice, interact with the players, let them know what the process is and help them to stay focused," said Jarrett. "If I'm able to be a professional, they can reach their dream as well."

Jarrett's replacement as Temple's free safety, senior Kevin Kroboth, took a trip to Lehigh to watch his former teammate and mentor at Eagles' training camp and has stayed in constant contact with him.

"I've been lucky, with (Jarrett and Tampa Bay Buccaneer Dominique Harris), I've learned so much the last three years," said Kroboth. "I couldn't ask for two better guys to bring me through the program, not just being a good safety but being a leader, taking the young guys under your wing.

"(With Jarrett) it was just his toughness and way to approach the game. We're hurting out here, camp gets long, the season gets long towards the end, you get bangs and bruises, but you love this. This is what you're here for. You love this and you have to show that you feel fine, so everybody around you gets their morale up and plays good."

Two months to the day after he was drafted, Jarrett signed a four-year contract on July 29 with a $1.117 million signing bonus, officially making him a professional.

Admittedly still a little overwhelmed and grateful for being taken so early in the draft, Temple's 2010 MVP said he has yet to make a large purchase.

"I didn't do anything with the money," he said. "I want to see it in the bank first."

As he dressed to leave the locker room after his first professional game, Jarrett slipped on a Steve Addazio Football Camp tee-shirt. He's an Eagle now, but a part of him remains in the smaller locker room down the hall.

"I'm an Owl for life," said Jarrett.

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