Seahawks fifth-round selection and Senior Bowl invitee Tariq Woolen tested as one of the best-athletes in NFL combine, but he's so much more. Here are five things to know about the former UTSA Roadrunner.
1. Above The Rim
Fort Worth native Tariq Woolen was an electric wideout on the field for Arlington Heights High, earning honors from nearby programs like Houston and North Texas before committing to University of Texas at San Antonio. But the 6'4" Woolen was also a high-flying dunker and scorer for the Yellow Jackets.
As a junior, Woolen was named to Fort Worth's 5A All-District team, as well as earning Newcomer of The Year honors.
Woolen played AAU for the Texas Express club of North Texas.
2. Flipping The Field
When Tariq Woolen signed his letter of intent to play for UTSA, it was with intentions of playing wideout. In his first season with the Roadrunners, Woolen caught 15 passes for 158 yards and a touchdown. Then, as a sophomore, everything changed.
"I never played defense my entire life," Woolen said. "One day at the back of a receiver meeting, Coach Wilson pulled me to the back and was like, 'I want you to try out playing cornerback.'"
Roadrunners' cornerback coach Nick Graham tried to sell Woolen on the idea after initial pushback, but it would be another surprise mentor to really get him excited about the position change.
Former journeyman football player and FedEx driver Thailand Pierce discovered Woolen on Instagram, and reached out. Pierce, a former Arena football league corner and football enthusiast, jumped at the possible opportunity to help the budding athlete any way he could.
"I just happened to come across one of his photos on his Instagram page and saw that he was in San Antonio," Pierce said. "So I contacted him. I basically said: 'Hey man, if you ever want to get some work in, let me know. He hit me back.' He said he'd never had a trainer before, so we started working out."
During the Covid-19 stricken summer of 2020, Pierce and Woolen worked out nearly every day in the Texas heat at UTSA's baseball field.
"I promise you," Pierce said he would tell Woolen, "you're going to be really good. You have a great shot. Just stick with it."
2020 was a year of trials and tribulations for Woolen, dealing with injuries and being benched while he truly learned the position. 2021 saw Woolen make a major leap, becoming one of 130 players to earn a Senior Bowl invite.
3. 40 Yards to Glory
If you didn't know who UTSA cornerback Tariq Woolen was prior to the NFL Combine - you likely learned of him after. In the 40-yard-dash, Woolen electrified on national television, running a 4.26. That time was not only good enough for fourth-best in event history, but at 6'4", Woolen became the first.) 6'3" or taller prospect to produce a sub-4.3 40 and a vertical jump of 40 or more inches (42").
Senior Bowl Director and former Seahawks scout Jim Nagy praising Woolen's athletic display at the Combine after similar dominant testing at the Senior Bowl
4. Senior Bowl Showout
In November, Woolen and Roadrunners tackle Spencer Burford were selected to participate in the annual Reese’s Senior Bowl showcase for the top seniors in the country.
UTSA's Twitter team highlighting Tariq Woolen being selected for the Senior Bowl
Upon arrival, Woolen's extreme speed was on display, as Zebra Technology tracked player speeds in miles per hour at early practices.
Woolen not only showcased his speed, but his overall abilities and potential at the cornerback position, shining in team workouts and one-on-one drills.
5. Tariq On The Track
Long before Tariq Woolen ran one of the fastest 40 times in NFL Combine history, he was building up his speed and technique on the track for Arlington Heights High. Throughout his time with the Yellow Jackets, Woolen participated in several different events, from the 100m to the 4x200.
Tracking Football highlighting the fastest 200 meter times for NFL prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft, including Woolen
Check out photos of Seahawks fifth-round pick Tariq Woolen from his 2022 offseason in Seattle. The cornerback out of San Antonio was selected No. 153 overall in the 2022 NFL Draft.