D.J. Tyson is a running back at Greenbrier High School in Evans, Georgia. He is listed as a three star athlete by Scout and has the reputation to back it up. But colleges are playing a waiting game due to his lack of size. To make up for it, Tyson and his dad are spending countless hours to prove his value for colleges. He is eager to share his long list of previous successes.
"I've been recruited by D-1 schools since I was in eighth grade coming into my freshman year. My first letter was from Vanderbilt in ninth grade going into my 10th grade year. I've been going to a lot of camps and combines since then.
"I made All-Region this year in 5-A, that's the biggest region in Georgia. I'm a three year starter in football, three year varsity basketball, and I'm now in my third year varsity track. I've been participating in all sports and keeping my grades up. I'm just trying to balance it all. It gets tiring at times."
Tyson, who may be smaller than his listed 5'-9", 170 pounds, has one scholarship offer, but he wants to have choices.
"I got one offer to Eastern Michigan. I've been contacted by Georgia Tech, North Carolina State, North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina, East Carolina, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Illinois, Oregon, Arkansas, Virginia, and Virginia Tech. Most of those are frequent, weekly letters."
Illinois has picked up its interest recently.
"I received a hand-written letter from DeAndre Smith earlier this week. I've been calling him but haven't had a chance to get in touch with him yet. I've been receiving frequent mail from Illinois, but this is my first hand-written letter from a coach and getting contact information."
Whatever Tyson may lack in size, he makes up for it with outstanding quickness and athleticism. His versatility alone should make a lot of top schools take notice.
"I play in a spread offense, so I'm used all over the field. Since I'm a small guy, they put me out in the slot. I also do some punt returns and kick returns. I'm more of a slashing, make-people-miss type guy. I run a low 4.4, high 4.3 forty, and I did a 4.2 shuttle. So I'm a fast, quick little guy.
"I kind of like being small. It's harder for the big guys to try to catch me. One little burst and you've got them. Make another move and you just leave them. There's a lot of ways of using my size as an advantage. I can also run in between the tackles. When we go into the "I" formation, I'm the main back. I don't have a problem with that either."
College football is his dream, so he will continue to attend camps and make visits to sell himself. Given his sports schedule, it is amazing he has time for anything else. But it will no doubt pay off eventually.
"I'm trying to get to camps at Arkansas, North Carolina, North Carolina State. I don't know if I'll make it to South Carolina's camp this year due to summer track. I will try to visit all the schools I listed. And I'll try to attend combines as well.
"On my spring break, I'm gonna try to coordinate with the coaching staff on their schedule. I'll try to take an unofficial visit to Illinois at that time. I'm pretty busy, but I'm trying to get to the next level. So I really put football before everything."
Tyson admits to a childhood favorite, but he must remain realistic.
"When I was growing up, I was a huge LSU fan. But once I started getting into the recruiting process, I noticed that LSU plays a different style of football. They use power backs, big husky guys. Right now, it's just a dream."
For many football families, the recruiting process is a true labor of love. Parents must devote hundreds of hours traveling their sons to camps and visits, making up and sending out highlight tapes, etc. Tyson's parents are more devoted than most.
"My dad's been helping me a lot during the recruiting process, and so has my cousin Kinsman Thomas, who was a true freshman receiver for Eastern Michigan this year. My dad and I decided to get into this, so we started to send out my game film in 8th grade. We've been working at it since.
"My dad spends hours making game films and highlight tapes and getting everything sent out. He travels with me to camps, flying me out to camps. He spends a lot of time helping me get recruited. We spend hours in the gym and on the field training. My mom helps me more with my homework because she says academics is the way to go."
Tyson's high school plays a rugged schedule, so their record last year wasn't real good. But despite the competition, Tyson impressed.
"We're actually a 4-A school that played up in 5-A. We were a 5-A school for a year, and then they built a new high school and all the kids went over there. Our team was struggling this year. We played Mack Brown and Raymond Sanders. Mack Brown is going to Florida this year, and Raymond Sanders is going to the University of Kentucky. We played great competition this year.
"But I was blessed, I was happy because I made All-Region with those caliber of backs and players I was playing against. I really don't know my stats. Our school doesn't communicate with the players what the stats were. But they must have been good if I made All-Region."
Tyson will keep the faith while continuing to do everything possible to prove his value to college coaches. With his speed, quickness and determination, he will make someone an outstanding specialty back.