NASHVILLE, Tenn. – When Titans rookie receiver Tajae Sharpe showed up for his first day on the job last week, he brought his own football with him.
Sharpe carried the pigskin across the parking lot and into the front door at Saint Thomas Sports Park. From there, he went to the locker room.
Talk about coming prepared.
Turns out it was just another day for Sharpe, an enthusiastic fifth-round draft pick out of Massachusetts who plans to make a name for himself in the NFL.
“I am a man that plays football so I want to always have it in my hand,’’ Sharpe explained. “I just like to hold the football. I usually go to sleep with my football. This is my job and this is my dream. I love it, and I’m going to carry it around as much as I can, just because.”
Sharpe was impressive during the team’s open rookie mini-camp practice on Friday, catching roughly a half-dozen passes in competitive drills. Earlier in the week, a video produced by Titans Online the day the rookies reported for the start of the offseason program showed Sharpe clutching a football as he walked in. It left some fans fired up.
Sharpe didn’t think much of it. He said he’s been carrying a football just about everywhere he goes since he first started playing the game. He remembers doing so in high school.
The Titans, of course, have hundreds of footballs inside the walls at STSP. Sharpe might be the first Titan to ever to bring his own football to work.
“Nobody said anything to me about it (here), but that’s something I usually always do,’’ he said with a smile. “As a receiver you are going to have the ball in your hands most of the time so you have to get used to the football. I just like to carry it.’’
Occasionally, Sharpe took a football to classes. When he traveled to Nashville, he put the football in a bag when he strolled through the airport. Friends and teammates seem to like it based on the impromptu games of catch that always seem to break out.
“The strangest place I’ve taken it?,’’ Sharpe said, repeating a question. “I’ve taken it in the bathroom. … I’ve taken it a lot of places.
“No, I’ve never taken it on a date or anything like that.”
The Titans like Sharpe’s attitude, and his potential.
In 2015, he led the nation with 111 catches. Sharpe (6-2, 194) turned the catches into 1,319 receiving yards and five touchdowns last season. In four seasons at Massachusetts, he caught 277 passes for 3,386 yards and 16 touchdowns.
The Titans selected Sharpe with the 140th pick in the fifth round of the NFL Draft.
Now, he’s hoping to make a name for himself in the NFL by being consistent.
“We have to earn everyone’s respect,’’ he said of the rookie class. “Respect is earned and not given. If a veteran speaks to you, that’s great. But you don’t want to be all loud … You want to show the guys you are about winning.
“I am just going to come in here and work hard and study hard and do my best to prove I can play at this level.”
This much is certain: Sharpe is thankful for the opportunity.
If the sight of him carrying the football across the parking wasn’t convincing enough, just look behind his left ear. There, you’ll find the word “Blessed.”
Sharpe got the tattoo just a few days ago.
“It describes me,’’ Sharpe said. “I truly am blessed, having my dreams come true when I got drafted by the Titans. It is something I can’t even put into words. So it is something I want to be able to express and can look at every single day and remind myself how truly blessed I am.
“A lot of people wish they were in my position so I don’t want to take anything for granted. I plan to give this organization 110 percent every single day.”