The Latest from Priority Sports
The Latest from Priority Sports
OXFORD, Miss. - Last year, Ole Miss quarterback Jordan Ta'amu was busy causing fits for defensive backs on the football field. Now, however, a few months removed from his final season in a Rebel uniform, he's hoping to cause fits for criminals on the streets of Oxford.
Ta'amu just recently returned from the 2019 NFL Combine, where he showcased his talents in front of all 32 professional teams in the hopes of hearing his name called in the upcoming April draft. While he waits, however, he's using his time off from the game to fulfill a dream of his – working for the Oxford Police Department.
The former Rebel quarterback is due to graduate in May, but his final degree requirement for a major in criminal justice requires a completed internship, and so Ta'amu elected to stay close to campus to finish out his college career as an intern with the OPD. He began less than a week ago, but he's already enamored with the officers and their day-to-day work.
"We basically get to go on a ride-a-long - it's awesome," Ta'amu said. "First day, I got in the car and I was just really stoked about what we saw out there. Oxford is a small town, but there's a lot going on."
The 21-year-old senior needs 135 hours to fulfill his internship requirement before May, and he's spending his eight-hour days and long weeks within the precinct observing the officers and learning the ins- and outs- of the law enforcement business.
"What we do is go in, just sit in dispatch and listen, and see what kind of calls we get daily," Ta'amu said. "Whenever a police officer sees an intern in there, they can grab them, and start driving around. We just do what they do on a daily basis. Just learning little by little."
Major Sheridan Maiden is one of the department's staffers dedicated to providing a learning experience for both his fellow officers and their respective interns.
"Not every department has an internship program, and we're glad to have this because one, it gives us a chance to get to know younger people that are looking at the profession, and at the same time, we get a chance to show them what actually goes on outside the classroom and in the profession itself," Maiden said. "It's a learning process all around."
Obtaining an internship with the police department is not an easy process, one that requires a rigorous background check as well as approvals from the Chief of Police and the Oxford Board of Aldermen, according to Maiden. For prospective law enforcement officers such as Ta'amu, however, the strenuous application is worth the experience provided through hands-on exposure in the streets.
"The purpose of our internship is for interns to work with officers on a wide variety of assignments throughout the Oxford Police Department," Maiden said. "They may be working with investigations, patrol, communications, record staff, SROs, housing units, or may even be working with the downtown unit."
Ta'amu says that he was inspired to apply for the position within the Oxford Police Department in part because of its' vast following – and humorous jabs – on Twitter.
"I just saw how funny they were on Twitter," Ta'amu said. "Their Twitter page kind of pointed me in that direction, honestly. I knew some classmates that had held internships with the OPD, who said that they had a lot of fun on the ride-a-longs, and I wanted to give it a try."
His father is a correctional officer, and his two uncles are former members of the military, while Ta'amu himself played two seasons of football at the New Mexico Military Institute – years in which he learned the art of discipline and character building, he said. He hopes his first real exposure to the profession one day allows him the prospect of becoming a law enforcement officer.
He knows that there is a life after football, be it in two years or twenty for the NFL hopeful, and he's bent on trading in his football jersey for a police uniform, when the time eventually comes.
"I always wanted to be a police officer when I was little," Ta'amu said. "I believe that is my calling after football, just because I love doing anything and everything for the community. I always wanted to go back home and be a police officer."
The Ole Miss quarterback's football career is far from over, however, and he's hoping that his plans for the law enforcement business are put on hold with a selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, held this year on April 25-27. Ta'amu displayed his skillset to potential NFL suitors at the combine in early March, and is now busy preparing for the Rebels' annual pro day on Friday, at which he and a slew of his former teammates will have the opportunity to further prove their worth in front of professional scouts and coaches.
"He passed the show at the combine where you have to do all the specialty drills and run the 40 (yard dash)," Paul Jackson, Head Football Strength and Conditioning Coach, said. "He'll never have to do any of that stuff again for the rest of his life. The main thing he'll need to do now is work on his craft, so, throwing, working on his movement skills and different route concepts, all that stuff."
Jackson's main concern is readying the current Rebels for their upcoming football season, but he still finds time to help his former players train and improve in the offseason. What makes Ta'amu special, he said, is a maturity beyond his years.
"He doesn't get flustered or stressed out, and it's very similar to the way he plays," Jackson said. "He shows up, you give him a task to do, and he executes. Very easy for a coach to work with. You just tell him what you need and he gets it done."
Jackson's convinced of his former player's football potential, but added that he would also make a fine law enforcement officer, if the opportunity one day presents itself.
"I think his people skills would enable him to get into a community and really, kind of, play a strong role there," Jackson said. "I could see him developing relationships with store owners and customers, and getting involved with the youth in communities. Being a police officer gives you a platform to the community, and I think he would do a great job with that platform."
As the plan stands now, Ta'amu will complete his internship, return home to Pearl City on the island of Oahu to watch the draft with his family, and perhaps catch up on a bit of Hawaii Five-O, before he hopes to begin the process of inundating himself with his new NFL team.
Ta'amu spearheaded one of the SEC's most dominant offenses a year ago, and he's hoping that his two stellar seasons in Oxford will pay dividends in next month's draft. In the meantime, however, he's leaving his accolades at the OPD door, and shedding his superstardom for a dark blue polo with one word across the chest - "Intern."
"All these guys that work here are superstars now," Maiden said. "We have very intelligent, hard-working, dedicated individuals, and when Jordan comes in, we treat him like we do any other intern, and he does what he's supposed to do. We're high on our people."