Tamarick Vanover Jr. has football in his blood. The many Chiefs fans in the Cedar Rapids metro undoubtedly remember his father, a speedy return man who had a solid career in Kansas City in the late 1990s. “Watching my father play helped me understand the grind,” Vanover Jr. says. “You’ve got to be out there working it every day. Don’t take anything for granted, because nothing is guaranteed.”
Vanover Jr. knows that all too well. “I wasn’t offered a scholarship when I came to Morehouse [College]. The coach liked me, but all he could do is offer a ‘preferred walk-on’ spot. I nearly got sent home because I didn’t have a scholarship, and couldn’t afford to pay for school. So I worked longer and harder than anybody, and the following spring I got a scholarship in football, and eventually in track too.”
Vanover Jr. brings versatility along with his second-to-none work ethic. “I consider myself first and foremost an athlete — a guy who can do it all. I played defensive back in high school,” he says, “and I started out as a DB on the [Morehouse] freshman team. They needed some depth at receiver, and asked me to switch over, so I did.
“That’s my biggest strength as a player,” he continues. “My versatility. I’m a quick learner. I can read defenses and make pre-snap adjustments, but I can also learn plays, formations, anything, very fast. “*
“I’m really excited about coming to Cedar Rapids. It’s the culture that drew me. Scott Porter first got in touch with me about playing in the IFL, building up some tape and expanding my game. He pitched me on Cedar Rapids, and right away I was interested. Then Mr. Harris reached out to me, followed by Coach Mann. That meant a lot — that the two top guys in the organization wanted me to come, and reached out.”
For now, Vanover Jr. is still in his hometown of Lake City, Florida, working out and getting ready for the season. “I work with NUMA Speed in Gainesville, and Coach Mann sent over an offseason conditioning program. I’ll work more on the indoor elements of the game — putting up cones [to simulate] the size of the field, stuff like that — a bit closer to time to report to training camp.”
Personal notes: Favorite team is the Baltimore Ravens. Wants to wear #1 for the River Kings, “Because #1 is the number one playmaker, and that’s what I want to be for Cedar Rapids.” Nickname is “T.”
*That’s his answer to the first part of the River Kings Report’s traditional “scout yourself” question. His biggest weakness? After a long pause, I suggested “You’re just too nice a guy.” He laughed and said “Yeah, let’s go with that.”