Inside the Class of '04: Bobby Tatum

The 13th in a series of interviews and photo essays on members of the Longhorn Class of '04: Signee Bobby Tatum.

Bobby Tatum
Fort Worth Dunbar HS
NR: 7 SR: 11 Rating: ****

An Inside Texas conversation with Dunbar head coach Bob Jones on Bobby Tatum:

IT: What are Bobby's strengths as a football player?

Jones: He's gifted with unbelievable talent and he's a huge kid, 6-1 1/2, 6-2, 200 pounds with sprinter's speed. I liken him to Roy Williams of Oklahoma. He looks like he should be a middle linebacker but he plays the skill position of cornerback. And he's highly intelligent. When you combine his God-given athletic abilities and his strengths, he's the full package.

IT: What did the Texas coaches tell you that they like about Bobby?

Jones: What I told them (Texas) about him, if I said 'Bobby, run through a wall', Bobby's old school. He wouldn't ask, 'Why coach?' He'd just run through the wall. That's the kind of kid Bobby is.

IT: What are the areas of his game that Bobby needs to improve upon to be successful at the next level?

Jones: He has to play against great players every day and perform at that level every play. At Dunbar, he could get away with not playing his best but he's got to understand that the guys playing across from him now will make him look bad if he doesn't play at a high level every snap.

IT: What did Bobby mean to your football program?

Jones: We found ourselves without a tailback this year -- last year's star went to Wisconsin -- and Bobby stepped up into that role. We lost him to injury on the fourth play of the first game and he didn't get healthy until later in the season, and we went 0-5 with him hurt. I felt like we would have been much better off if Bobby had stayed healthy. He was a guy we could always depend on.

IT: Is there a defining moment for you that exemplifies Bobby's ability as a football player?

Jones: He came back from his dislocated shoulder after sitting out four-five weeks, came back against Waxahachie, and we were fighting hard to make plays. We had the ball on the one-inch line and we pitched it Bobby and he took it 99 yards for the touchdown. And against Southern Hills, he's like, 'Coach, let me return a kickoff.' And he's just coming back from injury and we're trying to bring him along slow, but he talked me into it. I look up and the kick sails about eight yards deep into the end zone, so I'm turning to the other coaches and the offense about to send them on the field, and I look back and Bobby's bringing it out! And he took it 108 yards for the touchdown! But we had a guy called for a clip on the five yardline as Bobby was about to go in the end zone! I asked the kid, 'Did you think that they were going to catch a guy with sprinter's speed over the last five yards?' Regardless, it's amazing that Bobby can do those kind of things.

IT: Is Bobby a leader, and if so, how does he lead?

Jones: He was a leader more in the way he worked (than vocally). He would speak up occasionally, though, and he's more vocal than some of the other great players I've had, but he mainly led by example. He's the kind of person that when he walks into a room, he belongs. He's not shy but he's not boisterous. He's a person that people are really attracted to.

IT: What position do you see Bobby playing at Texas?

Jones: I really think he'll (eventually) be a strong safety, and he may even grow into a Will linebacker. He is genetically blessed. He's built like a Greek God. I can see him being a 6-1 or 6-2 guy carrying 230-240 pounds. At that size, as a corner, he'd be a freak of nature. He tells me corner, but he's growing and lifting weights. I think he'll start at cornerback. That's what they're telling him.

IT: Anything that we didn't cover that you'd like to add?

Jones: He wrote me a beautiful note and left it for me when I got back from Christmas, thanking me and the coaching staff for what we had done for him. We needed to be thanking him. As a coach, you just wish you had 60 or 70 Bobby Tatums.

*Photos by Will Gallagher/Inside Texas*

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