Believe it or not, you don't have to be a winner to have the attitude of one. It doesn't hurt, but it's not a necessity. Kyle actually has been at least part of a winner, his team winning it all two years ago. Sublime went to ridiculous however as his team fell from the top in dramatic fashion going from unbeatable to not even a season with a winning record.
For some players, it makes them wilt and give up. Kyle goes the other way though, because he knows why it happened in the first place. "There wasn't any togetherness last year." Kyle stated. "We weren't really a team. A few thought they were great and the rest didn't matter and that killed us."
As you are all fully aware, it's sometimes not the most talented team, but the most unified team that wins the big games in the end. Everyone on the same page at the same time with the same goal in mind. A unity that makes each individual better because he's not playing as an individual, rather part of the team. Kyle is going to make sure last year doesn't repeat itself. "I'm not going to let it happen." Kyle said of letting a team splinter apart. "Our class has what it takes ( to win the title). The only thing that can stop us is a bad off-season and I am not going to let that happen."
True leaders are never chosen, they present themselves. Sometimes it happens quick and sometimes, it's just a matter of it happening along the way. Kyle has waited his turn and as is well illustrated by his previous comments, he's taken his role as one close to heart and isn't looking back. "We have to be a team." Kyle said."And, if I have to lead, ok, but we have to be a team or we won't do a thing."
If you get a sense of what Kyle is like off the field, imagine what he is like on it. Playing both sides of the ball last year, Kyle proved that regardless of whether he was on offense or defense, that attitude transferred very nicely. Well, that is unless you are the guy across from him. "You have to be relentless." he said. "You can't give up. You just have to keep on going or anything you can do."
Now, I don't mean to demean offensive players, because I know some are about as mean as they come, but I equate attitudes of relentless, physical dominance combined with a tinge of a nasty streak to guys that stop people, rather than those trying to run them over.
It just goes back to that old cliche', "a defensive players' mentality'. And, if Wilcox doesn't have it, nobody does, because this young man thrives on success, but it's the physical punishment he relishes. "I want to hit people in a way that he never wants to see me again." Kyle stated in reference to blocking and tackling both. "I want them to know I am not out there to make friends."
Another thing is that listening to Kyle talk about hitting people, it reminded me of listening to Ronnie Lott as he described what he called the "whoo hit". A hit so devastating that the crowd just goes "whoo" when they see it. Kyle has a similar idea about how that kind of hit feels. "You can't really describe it." Kyle said in reference to knowing he's going to get that kind of hit. "Your body just tingles and you think, ‘too bad for him'. There's nothing like it in the world."
Kyle went so far as to recall a specific hit he laid on a defender that had to have fit Ronnie's criteria to a tee. "I've had a few of those before." he said. "I remember one I had against Johnson. You heard it in the press box. I had to come out because I cut my nose up on that one and I don't know what happened, but I loved it."
Kyle's relentlessness earned him 1st team All-Conference last year and he's destined to be an All-State selection, at least in the pre-season this year, but that's only the beginning of where he wants to go. State title or bust for Kyle and his aspirations along with his skill, strength, quick feet and attitude are garnering him attention from all over.
As you would expect, the Iowa schools are hounding him pretty good, but the Big 10 and much of the Big 12 are taking notice as well. It's nothing to Kyle though, at least right now, because as you know and I know, he most definitely knows, it's still darn early.
Kyle is looking forward to his annual camp trips as he takes off to schools close and far, but still isn't in any hurry to think about where he wants to go after this year. "I'm excited about this year." Kyle said. "I'm not real worried about where I am going to go, because that's almost a full year away."
Yes it is, but we all know how time flies when you are having fun and after listening or in this case, reading about this young man, you can only imagine just how much fun he has and plans on having during this season to come.
Steve Ryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-730-5619