USFNation Q&A: Bulls LB Tyrone McKenzie

USF transfer linebacker Tyrone McKenzie was 8th in the country with 126 tackles last season, and just completed his first spring practice as a Bull. Read this exclusive interview and find out what his first spring practice with USF was like, what type of a player he is, what his expectations are this year, and much more. Only on -- Get it First, Get it Fast!

Tyrone McKenzie


How was it going through you first spring at USF?
"It was great to get a chance to go out there and get a feel for the coaches and learn the new plays, and to acclimated to the system."

What was the hardest thing to get used to?
"The hardest thing was learning all the coverage's that we have. The first week Coach Burnham threw a couple things at me, and I caught on to it, and after that he saw I was catching on pretty quick and he started throwing more stuff at me and then through the whole package at me. It's a good thing that he did, because now I got my feet wet and understand what kind of defense he's running, and I understand and know the plays going into the fall."

What was the easiest for you out there?
"The easiest was just playing football. To go out there and try and try and make plays, that's what I love to do.  Also through all the years of playing I've had great coaches teaching me the position, and I'm learning more everyday now from Coach Burnham."

Have you been learning a lot from the coaches and players?
"Yes, Coach Burnham is a great linebacker coach and he's helping me learn the defense and everything and become the player that I want to be.  Also Ben Moffitt and Brouce are really helping me with any questions that I have."

Where do you feel you got the most work at?
"I got a lot of work at both positions. Playing SAM in base defense, and playing WILL in the nickel package. It's good to get the work in both spots and learn all the different linebacker positions. That way when I'm on the field it helps me out."

How do you thing you preformed this spring?
"I think I did okay. I'm not where I want to be yet, but I just learned a lot of different things and have a better idea of what we run here. I think I accomplished a lot during spring ball.  I look forward to summer and working out with coach McKeefery he's going to help me get my body right. I'm going to go in and do extra work on my body and learn the plays, so when fall gets here I'm ready to go."

How is it different here then at Iowa State?
"It's different, but Coach Mac did a great job getting us ready through winter conditioning. We've been working very hard this spring and it's going to show come game day."

What was it like going through your first spring with Coach Leavitt?
"Having the chance to be out here with Coach Leavitt is great. He's something else. You hear all this stuff about him but when you get a chance to actually see him in person, and to see the way that he acts towards this team is great. You don't see coaches run drills and do the things that he does.  He's something else, something special, and it's obvious in the direction that he has this team going. It doesn't mean a thing unless you can put it all together, and we have some great players, and he's able to bring us all together for one goal, one game at a time, one practice at a time."

Are you getting acclimated to USF?
"The classes are going pretty smooth. I'm getting used walking around campus and going to classes. I'm getting used to the team, the work-outs, everything."

Are you originally from Tampa?
"I'm originally from Riverview Tampa. I was actually born in Queens, New York but I moved here when I was four years old."

Was the main reason you came back to Tampa to be closer to you mother?
"Yes, my situation with my mother and her illness, I decided to come back home, be closer and help her out with my sister. It was also a great chance to come here and play for the Bulls."

What was it like when you found out that you were granted your hardship waiver and didn't have to sit out the year?
"It was great hearing about it, but I was also surprised when they called me about it. I asked if they were sure a couple of times, but they told me they were 100 percent sure that I got it. It was great news, and I'm just blessed for it."

How is it being reunited with Coach McCarney?
"It's great. Coach McCarney is an excellent coach. He did a great job at Iowa State and I know he's going to do a great job here at USF helping out Coach Burnham and the rest of the defensive staff. It's also great to see a familiar face around."

Last year you were 8th in the country in tackles, what do you attribute that to?
"Just going out and working hard every day. My defensive coordinator and my linebacker coach taught me a lot, and to work hard every day in practice. What you do in practice, and how you practice translates to how you do on the field. Last year I had a great year, but I feel that there are still a lot of things that I need to improve on in my game. This spring I've been trying to improve on all the weaknesses that I have and also all the great things about my game, I'm trying to strengthen everything at the same time."

What is your exact height and weight, and 40 time?
"I'm 6'2 ½, and my weight is 232 pounds. I like to be up to 235 by the time the season gets here. The last time I was timed in the 40, I ran a 4.57."

What would you say your strengths are as a player?
"My vision, I feel that my vision is strong. I really don't sit down and look at all the strengths I have. I focus on the weaknesses that I have and try and work on them to try and improve myself as a player. I want to get better ever year and improve as an athlete."

What do you want to work on as a player?
"I want to improve on everything. I want to improve on defeating blocks, making plays, making more plays, making big plays,. All together I want to work on my whole game, and improve everything about it. I want to take that next step."

What are your assets as a linebacker?
"I think I bring strength quickness, toughness, and overall linebacker. I'm not scared to hit you, I'm not scared to run you down, and I'm not scared to cover you. I just try and make every play that's possible. I can play all three positions, SAM, WILL and MKE. I like to be outside with the freedom to roam and make plays, but I'll play wherever coach wants me to play I will and play as hard as I can for him."

Are the any certain plays or coverage's that you prefer?
"I like to go one on one with the tight end and to shut him down. I like cover three, especially when I can come up and slam some one in the flats. I also like to go outside and see an inside run, and see the running back getting ready to cut back against you and if he doesn't see you, then you just nail him before he gets a chance to change gears."

Do you have any certain moves that you like to do on the field?
"I don't really have any moves that I can name off. I just work on the technique that I was taught and get to the ball carrier as fast as I can, that's the best move I have."

What's your favorite thing to do on the football field?
"My favorite thing to do on the field is to fly run around and make plays. To run around and make big plays when they need me, do what ever it takes to help the defense and your team win the game. Turnovers are always big because they give your offense another chance to score. Every time you get a turnover it's great for the offense and the defense."

Are there any teams that you're looking forward to playing against?
"I'm looking forward to playing West Virginia.  One game I'm especially ready to play is Auburn. Getting a chance to go up there and play Auburn at their house in that atmosphere is going to be crazy. Getting a chance to play a SEC team will be great also."

What you goals that you want to accomplish?
"First, I want to fight for a starting spot. We have a lot of great players here, and I want to be one of those great players. I want to do what ever it takes to help this team win a big east championship, I want to go home winning the Big East. I want to place myself among my peers here and show my coaches that I can be the man. That I'm accountable, to this team and to them, that they can count on me to always be where I need to be at the right time on a play. I want to get my degree and to graduate, then hopefully be able to go to the next level afterwards."



Talk about it on the  Message Boards - Get it First, Get it Fast!


Bulls Daily Top Stories