Jachai Polite’s Twitter handle (@RetireMoms) started as a goal but now reads more as prophesy.
Polite’s mom, Katrina Simmons, has been with her son through thick and thin. She raised him, took him to football practices and when the time came she was right by his side taking him to visit colleges. Since then she’s at every game she can get to.
“It’s been wonderful. It’s just like most people with their moms, they just love them so much,” Polite said. “Just don’t want her to do anything. I’ll take care of her.”
Polite reports that he didn’t start lifting until well into his high school playing career. His junior season Polite tallied 81 tackles, 13 sacks, forced two fumbles and deflected seven passes. When he arrived at Florida he played in 12 games as a freshman and seven games as a sophomore before a season ending injury against Georgia.
It was during that time that Polite took the time to learn from first round pick Taven Bryan.
“Taven Bryan, I used to always watch him do like ankle flexibility things. So I just stole his trick I guess,” Polite said about what he took from Bryan’s game and preparation. “”Since last year, my sophomore year. I saw Taven Bryan do it so I wanted to be like that.”
Polite has taken off in his junior season thanks to two major changes. First it was Todd Grantham’s defense. His first two seasons the coaching staff wanted him to play a three technique. In Todd Grantham’s defense there is a BUCK, or a position like a rush linebacker that would allow Polite to use his speed.
“Really good burst, ability to bend, acceleration. I think that’s what’s going to separate him is his ability to bend and accelerate,” Grantham said of Polite. “And he’s really passionate about getting better, becoming a complete player, becoming a three-down player and doing those things, and you see it with his effort. He gives really good effort, and when he’s out there he runs to the ball. He works on the things that we talk about.”
Second was Polite dedicating himself to the weight room and even more so to a diet. Polite says the toughest thing to give up was candy, specifically Swedish fish. He doesn’t even allow himself a cheat meal or even a handful of the sugary red fish he used to eat handfuls at a time. Polite completely changed his body and he moves better than he did his first two seasons.
Both of those are paying off. Through six games the junior leads the team with six sacks and is tied for the team lead with 7.5 tackles for a loss. He leads the country with four forced fumbles. He has 24 tackles and three passes broken up as well. He’s only seven sacks away from tying Alex Brown’s school record for sacks in a season (13 in 1999).
In the NFL nobody gets paid like quarterbacks. On defense nobody gets paid like guys who get after those quarterbacks and get sacks and Dan Mullen sees a lot of similarities in guys he’s coached that are now getting paid to do just that.
“(I’ve) been around guys that maybe have some different deals with some power, length. You know, a Carlos Dunlap who had unbelievable length. You know I had Preston Smith who had great length coming off the edge as well with the explosion but not just the pure the quickness and the burst,” Mullen said when asked about a comparison to Polite. “I hope not because I don’t want to be offending anybody though, but, that I’ve seen with Polite. Oh, I was one year with Syracuse. I was a grad assistant with Dwight Freeney. He was a freshman.”
Katrina Simmons has worked most of her life to provide for her son. With each passing week, each tackle for loss and each sack her son is getting closer to being able to return the favor and make good on the promise he made when he signed up for Twitter.