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T.J. Tampa Has Flown Under the Radar | Commanders NFL Draft

Written By Adam Aniba

This years cornerback draft class might not feature household names, but it's deep with potential with a few playmakers that should even be available on Day 2.

Iowa State cornerback T.J. Tampa has been a prospect that has flown under the radar for some, but has been a steady force in the Big 12.

T.J. Tampa

6'2" 200 lbs | CB | ISU

Draft Proj 2nd Rd

Career Stats (37 games)- 107 tackles (83 solo), 9.5 TFLs, 3 INTs, 19 PD & 1 FF

2023 Stats (12 games)-  44 tackles (33 solo), 3.0 TFLs, 2 INTs & 7 PD


Tampa grew up in St. Petersberg, FL and played football and basketball for Lakewood High School.

The Lakewood point guard averaged 10.5 points a game and helped lead his team to the conference title with Lakewood being a state-tournament finalist.

Tampa was a two-time all-county selection on the hardwood and was offered a full scholarship to play basketball for James Madison.

Tampa played two-way football while at Lakewood HS, lining up at cornback and wide receiver. As a receiver he totaled 30 receptions for 554 yards and 9 touchdowns.

At corner the Lakewood defenesive back recorded 32 tackles, 9.0 tackles for a loss, 4 sacks, returned an interception for a TD and fumble recovery for a touchdown.

Tampa helped this team to the Class 4A state semifinals and concluded his career with 67 catches for 1,323 yards and 17 touchdowns. Tampa was was awarded the Pinellas County Athlete of the Year as a senior in 2020.

The versatile Lakewood senior was rated as a 3-star recruit by ESPN and 247 Sports, receiving offers from Georgia, Maryland, Wake Forest, Cincinnati, Rutgers and Iowa State. Ultimately Tampa commited to the Cyclones.

As a freshman Tampa was actve in 6 games (89 snaps at corner), recording 4 tackles.

In 2021 Tampa played in 11 games (302 snaps) making 17 tackles, 2 pass breakups,and an underwhelming 130.2 QB rating when targetted.

Tampa bounced back in '22 starting 12 games (642 snaps) recording 38 tackles, 8 pass breakups, 1 interception with a much improved QB rating of  70.7 when targetted. For his effots, Tampa was named to the Second Team All-Big 12 squad by the coaches.

2023 has been Tampa's best while at Iowa State, recording 2 interceptions and 7 passes defended this season.

Tampa recently accepted an invite to the 2024 Senior Bowl and will have a chance to impress NFL scouts with ability & intangibles.


  • Impressive when tracking the ball in the air, showing good change of direction

  • Looks fluid in zone with impressive speed when breaking on the ball and jumping routes

  • Solid in run support and doesn't shy away from contact

  • Backround as a receiver is evident, displaying soft hands and dicplined eyes when playing the ball

  • Solid wrap up tackler, but also displays the ability to drop the hammer as a big hitter


  • Plays a bit too upright at times and needs to improve when sinking his hips during his backpedal

  • Tendency to be a step slow in his transitions when closing on the ball

  • Not overely aggresive when asked to press/play close to the line

  • Can be manulpulated by play-action

  • Too often lets the action come to him and needs to show more agression in coverage


Cyclones Coach Matt Campbell has been impressed with Tampa's growth since deciding to return for the '23 season.

“He certainly could have opted to leave and go in the National Football League last year. For him to come back, and you look at the transformation he’s made physically, it’s been nothing short of exceptional.”

Tampa boasts protypical size and overall length for a cornback transioning to the NFL. Many evaluations/projections have the Cyclones cornback firlmly slotted late in the 2nd round-early 3rd round.

He'll likely get an invite to the NFL Combine and will also have a chance to impressive teams duirng Iowa State's Pro day and the Senior Bowl.

Regardless, Tampa has 37 college games under his belt and should have an immediate impact on the next level.


9/9/23 vs Iowa, 9/23 vs Okl St., 10/14 vs Cinn, 11/18 vs Texas & 11/25 vs Kansas St.




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