JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jay Tufele was a 2020 opt-out. Urban Meyer tried to recruit Tufele to Ohio State coming out of high school. Meyer wasn’t able to land Tufele in college but he will get to work with him in the NFL. Funny how those things work out.
Tufele played his college football at USC. After redshirting his freshman year, Tufele burst onto the scene in 2018 earning second-team All-Pac-12 and USC’s Defensive Lineman of the Year award.
The next year he followed that up with an even better season, starting all 13 games for the Trojans and racking up 41 tackles, 6.5 for loss, with 4.5 sacks. Tufele earned a first-team all-conference selection. Tufele reportedly considered declaring for the draft in 2019, but chose to return to school. He never saw the field again as a Trojans player.
“Oh today is the most special day in my life. Just the whole, life-changing, it’s everything. From being a little kid and then especially with everything that’s happened it’s just a blessing. It’s a blessing and I’m so grateful, I’m so grateful.” — Tufele on being drafted
“I am back home in Utah. I realized this morning, when I had a call with Coach Tosh [Lupoi]. And basically, he told me that he believes in me and he wants me—I’m his guy and he’s ready to get to work and he wants me. And for me to have a coach believe in me, to have that, it’s an honor and I’m so grateful. And in all honesty, I just want to say, from the beginning, for Mr. Khan believing in me, to Trent Baalke, our GM and then also, Coach Urban. I mean, it’s such an experience that’s like no other and I’m so grateful. I’m so grateful to be here.” — Tufele on when he found out he would be a Jaguars player
What the analysts are saying:
CBS Sports: B
Jaguars were in desperate need of some interior disruption, and they get that there with Tufele. One of the best swim moves in the class, and he hustles. Just gets washed out against the run.
Pro Football Network: B+
Defensive tackle was a huge need for the Jaguars and they fill it with one of the best in the class in Jay Tufele. An explosive interior defensive lineman with excellent agility for his size, Tufele was impressive in 2019 before opting out of the 2020 season.
ESPN’s Michael DiRocco:
Tufele opted out of the 2020 season because several family members contracted COVID-19. However, he was an All-Pac-12 first-team selection in 2019 when he had 41 tackles (6.5 for loss) and 4.5 sacks as a sophomore. This pick likely signifies the end of the road for 2018 first-round pick Taven Bryan, who lost his starting job midway through the 2020 season. Tufele played defensive tackle and nose tackle at USC and at 6-3, 315 pounds, he has the size and versatility to play inside and outside.