Prospect Grady Jarrett Calls Ray Lewis His Uncle


Ray Lewis' son isn't in the NFL yet, but the next best thing may be.

Clemson defensive tackle Grady Jarrett calls Lewis his uncle. It's not a blood connection, but there's a strong bond between the two.

"I grew up with him since I was 5 years old," Jarrett said at the Senior Bowl.

"He's just always been in my life. I'm real close with the family. His mom is my grandma, his kids are my cousins. It's a personal relationship; we just ain't blood."

The connection originated with Jarrett's father, Jessie Tuggle. Tuggle was a 14-year linebacker (1987-2000) and five-time Pro Bowler for the Atlanta Falcons. Lewis looked up to Tuggle, and the two became close friends.

Jarrett and Lewis are in frequent contact, and they talked almost every day during the Senior Bowl week.

"It's a lot of encouragement. It's mindset training," Jarrett said.

Jarrett and Lewis actually have a similar backstory, as well. Both were discounted because of their size, but are students of the game who take it very seriously.

Jarrett, who grew up in Georgia, didn't get any interest from the University of Georgia, the school he wanted to go to. It may have been due to his size. Jarrett is a squatty 6-foot-1, 295 pounds – about as wide as he is tall.

ESPN ranked Jarrett as the No. 80 defensive tackle in the nation in his high school class. Clemson took a shot on him, and he was the 22nd-ranked player in the Tigers' 2011 signing class. Jarrett said he took those slights personally.

He worked hard to maximize his shorter frame, and has a toned, muscular build. He uses his shorter stature to create leverage and push around offensive linemen, something he did a lot of at the Senior Bowl.

"I've got that passion for the game," Jarrett said. "I enjoy the game, respect the game and give my best every time I touch the field."

Jarrett is seen as a mid-round pick but said, "Whatever round I go in, I'm going to be the same player. I'm going to come hard every day."

He would like that place to be Baltimore. Jarrett said he's been to numerous Ravens games to watch his "Uncle Ray" play.

It seems somewhat unlikely that Baltimore would spend a high pick on a defensive tackle considering the Ravens drafted Brandon Williams and Timmy Jernigan the past two years, respectively. But who knows?

"That would be special," Jarrett said. "I've been to Baltimore numerous times, been to games. It's an awesome crowd, awesome city. That would be a nice destination to land."

Jarrett did catch the eye of the Ravens Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz, who listed Jarrett as one of the most impressive players during the three days of practice.

"He's undersized and not prototypically built for the 3-4, but he's active with his hands, he's a good leverage player, he understands pad level, and he's quick and sudden and strong for a guy his size," Hortiz said. "He's been real active this week."

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