Born: December 23, 1994
Tajae Lamar Sharpe was born December 23, 1994 in Piscataway. Tall, fast and powerful, Tajae excelled in a wide range of sports and became the star of the Piscataway Township football team as a receiver and defensive back. The Chiefs had a strong football tradition. Recent grads Kyle Wilson, Malcolm Jenkins and Anthony Davis were all NFL starters. Tajae’s teams won state sectional titles in 2008, 2010 and 2011. Two of those championships came in blowout wins against arch-rival Hunterdon Central. In Tajae’s final prep game, the Chiefs defeated Elizabeth for the sectional championship with 17 seconds to go.
Tajae followed in the footsteps of fellow New Jerseyan and Giants sensation Victor Cruz and accepted a scholarship to UMass and made the starting lineup as a freshman. In four varsity seasons he caught 277 passes, including 85 as a junior in 2014 and a school-record 11 as a senior in 2015. Unfortunately, most of those catches came in losing efforts, as the Minutemen struggled to win more than a handful of games under coaches Charley Molnar and Mark Whipple.
Nevertheless, Tajae was ranked among the Top 20 wideouts in the 2016 NFL Draft, and went to the Tennessee Titans in the fifth round. Tajae joined an offense that featured running back DeMarco Murray, receivers Rishard Matthews and Delanie Walker, and young quarterback Marcus Mariota. Tajae started his first pro game, pulling in 7 passes against the Vikings.
Tajae was in and out of the starting lineup as a rookie. He ended up catching 41 passes for 522 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His reception total ranked third all-time for Titans rookies, behind Kendall Wright and Rutgers product Kenny Britt. Coaches were impressed with his ability to fight off physical man coverage to get open, with good hands and footwork for a first-year player. Overall he was 5th among NFL rookies in catches and yards.
Heading into 2017, many Tennessee fans felt Tajae might distinguish himself as the club’s #1 receiver. A sore foot was diagnosed in the spring as a stress fracture and was surgically repaired. Unfortunately for Tajae, he reinjured the foot in camp and underwent season-ending surgery in September.