DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Almost two years ago, Marcus Tatum took on a big challenge at a Central Florida summer camp session.
The rising junior lined up against five-star defensive end Byron Cowart, who was a year older than him and ranked as a consensus top-10 overall recruit in 2015.
But Tatum claims that the matchup with Cowart paled in comparison to his battles in practice with Jachai Polite, his teammate at Daytona Beach Mainland and an incoming freshman for Florida.
“I never faced anybody better than him,” Tatum said of Polite. “Jachai is way better than Byron Cowart, by a lot. I went against Byron when I was a sophomore at the UCF camp and I was kicking his butt on a sprained MCL. I played right tackle and he was this big-name guy.
“When I go against Jachai, it’s a different story. He’s got better moves than Byron, better pad level, better speed, everything. In that same camp, things just clicked for (Jachai) and he was dominating. That’s really when he started becoming a beast.”
Tatum, a Tennessee signee and the state of Florida’s No. 1 offensive tackle, isn’t alone in his opinion of Polite. Southern Cal coaches told him he ‘can be the next Leonard Williams,’ the No. 6 overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft. Cowart, meanwhile, has failed to meet expectations thus far at Auburn and was arrested on marijuana charges last week.
Unless otherwise indicated, rankings and ratings come from the 247Sports Composite.