Isaiah Jatta considers himself a late bloomer, but there’s no question he’s made a remarkable impression in a short time.
An offensive lineman who received very little attention out of high school, Jatta is on his way to Boulder as a key part of Colorado’s 2023 recruiting class.
“Man, I’m super thrilled and blessed,” he said. “I’ve been working hard for this and I know I’m ready for it.”
Jatta, a tackle listed at 6-foot-6, 310 pounds, signed with CU last month after two seasons at Snow (Utah) College, and the Buffs had plenty of competition to get him.
“I pretty much had every school’s attention in the nation, if I’m being honest,” he said.
Originally committed to South Carolina in June, he decommitted on Dec. 13 and some projected he would wind up at Auburn. He also took official visits to Eastern Michigan, Kansas and BYU and had offers from Illinois, North Carolina State, Oklahoma State and Syracuse, among others.
It was an unofficial visit to CU in mid-December that led to his ultimate decision.
“I felt really confident in Colorado,” he said.
Throughout the process, Jatta had received a scholarship offer from Kent State when Sean Lewis was head coach and Bill O’Boyle the offensive line coach. When Lewis came to CU last month as offensive coordinator and brought O’Boyle with him, Jatta suddenly considered the Buffs.
“Coach O’Boyle has been on me since he was at Kent State early on in the spring, so me and him had talked for a minute now,” Jatta said. “Colorado wasn’t on my radar at all (before that).”
The opportunity to play for new CU head coach Deion Sanders, as well as Lewis and O’Boyle, was too good to pass up. And, he’s eager to block for new Buffs’ quarterback Shedeur Sanders, a star at Jackson State the past two years.
“Going into this, I know what’s going to be coming,” he said. “He’s a 3,000-yard passer easily his past two seasons in college football. So, just get him protected and we’re gonna be good; that’s it. I’m super excited for this opportunity.”
A 2019 graduate of Helix High School in La Mesa, Calif., Jatta didn’t play much until his senior year. Back then, he was 6-5 and about 360 pounds and was one of the best linemen in his league as a senior.
Without many scholarship offers, he took a year off from school and then spent 2020 taking classes at Southwestern College in Chula Vista, Calif. – and getting in shape by losing nearly 50 pounds. By the time he got an opportunity at Snow in 2021, he hadn’t played football in nearly three years.
At Snow, however, he played two seasons and was exceptional. This past year, he was a first-team All-American by the National Junior College Athletics Association.
He comes to CU short on experience, but loaded with confidence after his success.
“I didn’t really get (technique) down until after high school,” he said. “Now I feel like my technique is top notch. It’s gonna get worked on a little bit more at Colorado, of course, getting to the next level, but right now I’m feeling really, really confident in my technique.”
Jatta is one of six transfer offensive lineman added by Sanders’ staff, and five of the six were starters for their teams this past season. Three of CU’s starters – including tackles Gerad Christian-Lichtenhan and Jake Wiley – are also currently slated to return.
Joining an experienced group of linemen doesn’t bother Jatta. In fact, it fuels his fire.
“Competition just drives everything,” he said. “I want to play for the best offensive line in college football, hands down. It doesn’t matter who’s there. I just want to play with a great group of guys who are always going to compete. I feel like competition brings the best offensive line room, to be honest. I’m really happy about that.
“I like playing with older guys, because I know we’re all gonna be on the same page when it comes to everything – whether it’s schoolwork, getting that done and holding each other accountable. Even on the field, holding each other accountable.”
Despite an unconventional route, Jatta has excelled and he hopes to stay on that path at CU.
“I’m a late bloomer in football,” he said. “I’m just happy I get to showcase my talent now.”