At first glance, Jarvis Loftin may not be a guy who jumps off the page. He stands around 6-feet tall and to be honest may be a shade under it. Then there is the weight, he checks in at a hefty 330-pounds. He is not prototypical and he knows it, his coaches know it.
However, it does not take long to see he carries that 330-pounds as well as many 100-pounds lighter, and he has the wingspan that allows him to play a little taller than his listed height. Watch him work and a few things quickly begin to standout.
"Look at his game film and what he's accomplished and I think it speaks for itself," Mendenhall linebacker coach and former defensive line coach Johnny Willis said. "You have a guy that size who is just explosive off the ball, great hands, big, makes plays down the field as well as behind the line of scrimmage, and has a motor that doesn't quit. It's showing in these camps he's going to but I think most big schools have their prototypical guy they want to sign and they are overlooking a diamond in the rough."
He describes himself as a talker on the field too, but a motivator and not a trash talker. As coach Willis points out, Loftin has a drive to succeed. Loftin is very proud of that drive, and while he is not certain, he does have a feeling about where it comes from.
"I guess it's from having nothing. I see football as paying for my college. Wherever I may go, it pays for my education," Loftin said. "Growing up we used to fight, me and my brothers, fist fight and wrestle and all that to see who is going to sleep where and who is going to sleep on the floor with the rat. It's funny, but it's real life. That's how a I grew up and I do it because of that. When I'm doing it I'm thinking of that."
Coaches at Mendenhall quickly saw that drive.
"He has a good work ethic. I know working with me I work him hard and he's never quit," Mendenhall linebacker coach and former defensive line coach Johnny Willis said. "He's getting better so he has a good work ethic.
"I think sometimes he has tendency to do too much besides focusing on a certain area he needs to focus on. I think he has a great work ethic especially once he gets teammates and coaches who push him on he'll do even better. He won't quit on you. He'll have your back. He is a tremendous kid. He's very respectful. He just wants to do well. He just wants an opportunity to show people what he can do."
In addition to his quickness, strength, and drive to succeed, he is also confident. He knows he does not fit the mold, but he also knows that mold can be broken and looks up to those who have overcome similar obstacles.
"I like to think of John Randle and Warren Sapp. They were vertically challenged," Loftin said. "If you can make plays happen that's all that should matter. Not height, not any numbers, I felt like I was the best d-lineman there (at Mississippi State) despite me being short.
"I feel like I have something to prove and that's why I play with a chip on my shoulder because that's what everybody tells me. My coach let's me know. Coaches think I'm short and don't think I can be productive and yet I continue to show them. What else do I need to do, I just need a place to showcase my talents."
As a junior in his first season at Mendenhall (Miss.) he was named second-team all-state, after recording around 80 tackles, six sacks, and an interception. He played his first three games on the offensive side before switching over to the defensive line. As he prepares for his senior season he plans to raise the bar.
"My plan for this year is to step it up just a little bit more," Loftin said. "I want at least eight sacks. I want to get in the 100s."
It will not be an easy goal, especially when you consider there are also plans to increase his play on offense.
"Actually they want me to be center this year," Loftin said. "One thing about being a team captain and a leader I can run that offensive line like I run the defense. They need some guidance right now. We have size, we just need someone who can guide us. It's a mountain I have to climb, getting to 100-plus tackles because I'm playing both ways. It's a challenge and I have to conquer it to boost my recruitment up."
When it comes to his recruitment, he has picked up offers from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and Holmes Community College, which lead to some to question his grades. However, Loftin has his schoolwork in order. He does need to improve his ACT score and he is attacking it with the same intensity he brings to the field.
"I talked to coach Turner from Mississippi State and I'm eligible," Loftin said. "My ACT score isn't the greatest but I'm working my butt off and I have total confidence I'm going to ace it. I'm going to be on it like white on rice."
Louisiana Tech and Louisiana-Lafayette are showing the most attention from the FBS level, with Mississippi State also continuing to show interest.
He has attended camps at Mississippi State, Southern Miss, and Louisiana Tech. At the July Mississippi State camp he earned top performer status while working on a pulled groin.
A trip is on the schedule to Louisiana-Lafayette for August 10, and he continues to hold out hope for that FBS offer.
Regardless of what happens Loftin continues to work, and continues to seek improvement both on and off the football field.
"My whole goal is to get somewhere where I can get an education and help my mom out," Loftin said.
And he has plenty of support behind him to help him find his way..
"He went to the State camp and Tech camp and dominated and he's wondering why they aren't offering, but he just has to keep working," coach Willis said. "If you are doing all you can do things will work out. You may have to take an alternate route, but at the end of the day you will have an opportunity to show and prove who you are."