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Former UW athlete Natrell Jamerson, left, and former Northern Iowa athlete Daurice Fountain -- an ex-Madison Memorial athlete -- pose with their trophies after the East West Shrine game on Jan. 20 in St. Petersburg, Fla. Jamerson returned a fumble 68 yards for a touchdown for the West and was named the game's most outstanding defensive player while Fountain caught three passes for 61 yards and had a 30-yard punt return for the East to earn top offensive honors. 


It’s rather fitting Natrell Jamerson learned of his NFL scouting combine invite immediately after finishing a workout.

The former University of Wisconsin safety became an avid viewer of the combine during his freshman year at Vanguard High School in Ocala, Fla., and since then the annual scouting convention in Indianapolis continued creating visions in Jamerson’s mind about how he could perform on that stage if given the opportunity.

Considering Jamerson’s physical transformation over those last seven years — now at 6-foot and 198 pounds, he can bench 400 pounds while also laying claim to being one of the fastest players on the Badgers’ roster last season — it’s hard to imagine anything but a stellar showing when he finally takes part in the event this weekend.

In many ways, the combine was made for someone like Jamerson.

"I know that I’m going to stand out,” Jamerson said. "I feel like this weekend coming up, when I perform, it’s really going to help my draft stock."

Other former UW players competing in this year’s combine, which runs through Monday, are tight end Troy Fumagalli, outside linebackers Leon Jacobs and Garret Dooley, inside linebacker Jack Cichy and cornerback Nick Nelson.

While currently projected as a late-round pick in April’s NFL draft, Jamerson has an opportunity to leave Indianapolis next week as one of the most physically impressive defensive backs in the class.

Jamerson, who’s splitting his training time between Madison and The Applied Science & Performance Institute in Tampa while he finishes his degree, said he expects to run in the 4.3s or low 4.4s in the 40-yard dash.

“It’s going to happen,” he said of clocking under 4.4 seconds this weekend. “That’s all I’m going to say."

Jamerson also believes he could approach 30 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press, a mark only a handful of defensive backs have accomplished in the history of the combine.

“The (scouts) who keep up with me, they know that I’ve got some speed and strength,” Jamerson said. “But once the combine rolls around and I actually show them personally what I can do, that’ll open a lot of eyes. This is my first year playing at safety, but comparing me to the other safeties in the draft, I feel like I’ll stand out a lot more."

Jamerson played cornerback for UW until last season, when he switched to safety and immediately became an impact starter at the position.

While he made a few game-changing plays early in the season, particularly in the Big Ten opener against Northwestern, he often flew a bit under the radar in a secondary that also included second-year starter D’Cota Dixon at safety and fellow draft prospects Nelson and Derrick Tindal at cornerback.

If Jamerson performs up to his capability this weekend, it certainly won’t go unnoticed.

He's already put himself in a position to sneak up draft boards. He impressed scouts the week of the East-West Shrine game in January, capped off by defensive MVP honors after returning a fumble for a touchdown.

Teams also like Jamerson’s versatility. He can play safety or as a nickel cornerback, and he excelled on special teams during his career at UW. That’s always a major plus for late-round picks.

"Being able to play (multiple poisons) on defense, and then the work I do on special teams, teams really like that,” Jamerson said. "I feel like each team kind of has a different vision or different plan on how they would like me to play. Whichever team I end up on, however they want me to play is how I’m going to play."

A big-time showing at this week’s combine would give teams yet another reason to like Jamerson heading into the final stretch before the draft.

"The combine’s very important, competing against all the top players in the nation,” Jamerson said. “Watching the combine on TV all these years, knowing that I’m about to be in that same position ... My dreams are coming true because I always wanted to be in the combine. I used to watch it and think about what I would do when I get there, and I’m about to be there."