West Orange cornerbacks Jordan Nix and Roman Tatum take time from a 2012 spring practice to mug for the camera. Tatum  has committed to play for the University of Delaware. (CHRIS HAYS/ORLANDO SENTINEL)
It was so impressive, that Tatum’s name and prospect profile was suddenly all over recruiting websites and in coaches notes across the region. Things looked to be going big time for Tatum.
The Winter Garden West Orange cornerback even started getting looks from Football Bowl Subdivision schools and USF offered him an early scholarship.
Then the attention stopped. He had a few more offers, but those fizzled out. He went through the season without much fanfare. He sat back as teams, he says, continued to throw the ball away from his side of the field.
But he kept fighting, kept plugging away. Frustration could have mounted. He could have taken a woe-is-me attitude, but he knew somehow he was going to get to the next level.
Tatum committed to the University of Delaware last week and saw his hard work, patience and perseverance pay off in the form of a college football scholarship.
It's not Division I-A, but that doesn’t matter to him. Not now.
“I didn’t really worry about that. I just had to pray and keep working,” Tatum said of being overlooked by the other schools. “I’m extremely excited. I think I leave June 2nd and I’m ready to get up there and start my college career.
“I feel like there is so much stress lifted. It’s a big relief. I am 100 percent committed to Delaware.”
Tatum picked Delaware after taking an official visit. He chose the Blue Hens over his other finalist Tennessee-Chattanooga.
“I really liked the players and the coaches … my position coach, I really connected to him,” he said of Blue Hens assistant coach Henry Baker, who recruits the Orlando area. “I just feel like I can go to this school and live for the next four years and be around all these guys. I had a great time and all those recruits coming in with me, we made a fast bond up there.
“I can also get a great education and I feel like a degree from the University of Delaware will mean something.”
He said his parents were also very happy .
“They’re excited. The thing they worried most about was the distance, but they told me to follow my heart and go with my heart," he said.
Tatum had five interceptions in his West Orange career. He joins another former Central Florida player at Delaware in ex-Sanford Seminole safety-punter Eric Farkas, who sat out this past season with a torn labrum in his shoulder. He will be back as a sophomore eligible this coming season.
Delaware is also the same school where Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl quarterback Joe Flacco played his college football. Also in the year's Super Bowl is another Delaware alum in rookie offensive lineman Gino Gradkowski, who is the brother of Cincinnati Bengals and former Tampa Bay Bucs quarterback Bruce Gradkowski.
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting and Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting and now on Pinterest at Orlando Recruiting.