TAMPA – Jalen Bussey burst onto the scene in an impressive fashion in Tampa Catholic’s 56-10 spring game victory over River Ridge just over two months ago.
The 5’6″, 132-pounder made his varsity debut with highly recruited rising senior Devan Barrett inactive. Bussey bolted his way down field for two rushing touchdowns in the opening quarter from seven and 48 yards out. He later added a 40-yard dash in the fourth quarter (full story here).
“That was a coming out party. Being a sophomore behind a big named senior just letting the coaches know that I can do something,” Bussey told Prep Sports Scouting. “It was good showing that my work in practice came out on the field that night.”
Aiming to get to 160 lbs. before the regular season, Bussey is going to have a role on the Crusaders’ offense after spending his freshman year as a running back on the JV team.
He tells me that he’s earning the bulk of his snaps as a running back and special teams with defensive back work mixed in as well. He’s expecting to be included in packages with Barrett, possibly in the wildcat formation.
Starting his football life at age 5 in flag football, Bussey has always been a running back. He says he gained his confidence in all the practices leading up to the spring game.
Last season, the Crusaders finished 10-3 before falling in the 3A state semifinals. It marked the second time in the three years that TC lost in that round. Bussey sat back and watched how he could fit into this dual-threat offense.
He feels very confident in his team that has state aspirations once again with a very balanced team.
“We have some new additions with tremendous athleticism. Creating that family bond will go a long way. Coach always says that we’re not an I and as soon as we start playing as an I, we’re not going to win a game.”
Fourth-year Tampa Catholic head coach Mike Gregory is one of the good guys around town. Bussey is very thankful to have a close bond with him.
“Coach Greg has helped me a lot of the years with personal stuff and sports. He’s always there to listen, I can tell him anything. He’s a great coach. I thank God for him.”
Bussey is fortunate to be able to learn from some highly talented upperclassmen including Auburn commit and 2016 graduate wide receiver Nate Craig-Myers.
“Nate [Craig-Myers] was a big role model for me. He used to always tell me to keep working hard because when you’re not working someone else is working.”
Rising seniors wide receiver Darius Corbett and running back Devan Barrett are beyond athletic. Bussey absorbs a lot of tips and tricks from them.
On Corbett: “Darius has always been there for me to help me improve my game.”
On Barrett: “Learning from Devan. He teaches me a lot. He’s always letting me know about blocking schemes and constantly with footwork.”
Bussey pointed to determination as his biggest strength.
“I’m not going to quit because I’m a little guy. I can get bigger, hopefully, I do. If I don’t, I’m always going to play like I’m a 6’1″, 200-pound running back.”
He says if defenses take him granted because of his size, they are going to get caught sleeping. Bussey is working the hardest to improve his patience in the backfield as he works in and out of his cuts.
He has no offers or interest yet, but he got his feet wet in the spring game and that is going to take him a long way.
His biggest role model is his mom.
“She’s my backbone. She’s always there for me and she always has my back.”
Bussey’s ultimate goal is to play college football and eventually make it to the NFL. If that doesn’t work out he wants to be a physical therapist for a sports team.
This undersized back is going to turn some heads this season. Bussey has legit speed and is fun to watch once he breaks through the whole.
Tampa Catholic has an up-and-comer in Jalen Bussey. They can groom him this year in a rotational role behind Barrett to get him ready to carry the load as a junior. Bussey shouldn’t be overlooked, he’s here to play.
Favorite player to watch – Devonta Freeman
Playlist before games – Whatever Darius Corbett is playing in the locker room
Favorite movie – Ride Along, When The Game Stands Tall
Favorite TV show – SportsCenter
Fun fact about you that no one knows – “I’m becoming a great pianist. I’ve been playing it for five months now. I like the music and being able to move your fingers like that on the keys.”
Nickname(s) from teammates or friends – “Big Bus”, “Little Torso”
Game film: Bussey’s Hudl tape
Here’s video of Bussey’s seven-yard touchdown run against River Ridge in the spring game.
— Jake Perper (@JakePerper) May 20, 2016
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Jake Perper is the scout for Prep Sports Scouting. Make sure to follow along for all the updates on Twitter: @JakePerper.
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