If football doesn't work out for Tyrone Ezell, the 6-3, 310-pound defensive lineman already has a backup plan. Become a pro wrestler.
"That was my first love, still my first love," Ezell said. "My mom, she grew up with it. I remember when I was little, just watching more than just the WWE, when there was WCW. You saw me at the bowl game holding the belt. That should show you how much I love it.
"It's a possibility. If pro football doesn't work out, I might take a look at it. I like Ty Ezell. I want to be a bad guy. It's more fun to be a bad guy. You can say whatever you want, do whatever you want. I liked The Rock when I was growing up, Stone Cold Steve Austin. I like Randy Orton now, and I liked Bill Goldberg--he was probably my favorite."
Ezell was moved all over the defensive line, playing in both a 3-4 defense and a 4-3.
Though he didn't break into the starting lineup as a regular until his junior season, Ezell says as his Pitt career developed, the more the NFL became an important goal.
"When I first got here, it wasn't too hard of a goal," Ezell said. "I just wanted to focus on being here, and being in college, trying to be the best players could be. It started to become more of a goal the more I started to play. My junior year, that's when I knew I had to go out and do my best. The NFL is definitely in the future for me. Then, when agents started contacting me on Facebook, that's we it really hit me. That's when I really started to take it more serious than I have."
He played in all but one game in the last two years, starting 24 of a possible 26 games.
While most will remember what Aaron Donald did during his career, Ezell played a big role in Donald's success. Offensive lines had to double-team him based on size alone. If Donald wasn't drawing he double, Ezell was in position to make a play. He recalled one of his favorites during his Pitt career.
"There was a play in the season where the quarterback tried to scramble between the A-gaps, and I pulled him by the shoulder pads," Ezell said. "That was probably one of the best plays I can remember. It was definitely exciting for me--one of the best ones I can remember."
Even with his size, he was listed as a defensive end during Pitt's Pro Day. Not his position of preference. But, he felt if that's what scouts wanted to see him at, he was up for it.
"They listed me for a defensive end, I saw one of the sheets for defensive end." Ezell said. "I'm more of a nose guard. I hope I'll go in there, but it doesnt matter where they put me."
Versatility might even be his best asset, and that doesn't just go for defense. He said there were two recent instances where he was the next offensive lineman in.
"Coach Chryst came up and told me, in fact, even after the Ole Miss game, last year," Ezell said. "I went up and told him, 'I'm here, whatever you need me to do, play offense, play defense, whatever.' He said, 'we might need you to go in there if someone isn't able to go,' and I said, 'let's go.' I went in there, and I played on the field goal protection. That was pretty fun. That took me back to high school when played offense and defense.
"The week of (the bowl game), they wanted me to try that. They had [Aaron Donald] lined up against me. That was brutal for a couple of times. Once I got the technique down a couple of times, it was easier. It was fun."
The Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts and Kansas City Chiefs are just a few of the teams that took notice. Ezell says he wasn't so much concerned about 40 times during the Pro Day. He wanted a chance to showcase his strength.
Ezell wasn't invited to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. Therefore, he valued the importance of getting one shot to impress the scouts at Pitt's Pro Day. In the end, he felt he made the most of his opportunity.
"It was pretty important," Ezell said. "If you went to the Combine, (Pro Day) was like another chance if you feel like you didn't do well. I had to really take it serious and give it everything I've got. It was very important, for sure."