It’s not entirely clear where Syracuse commit Tyler Cross developed his elite work ethic. It could be part of achieving the dream of playing division one football. Or it could be looking forward to a moment when his father can watch him play once again.
Cross made the varsity football team as an eight grader. After competing with other players on the team, he started to realize that the football dream was a realistic one. But that year was not entirely positive.
That is because while Cross was in eighth grade, his father was put in prison on drug charges. According to Cross, his dad was a “big time drug dealer.”
But a father-son bond goes beyond those circumstances. Tyler stays in touch with his dad, visiting him in prison frequently. He admits he misses having his father in the stands when he plays.
Cross is originally from Alabama, transferring to Chapel Hill High in Douglasville (Ga.) during while in tenth grade. He currently lives with aunt in Douglasville, while his mom remains in Alabama and works as a nurse.
The two women provide Cross with a strong support system, doing what they can to allow him to pursue his football dream. Those dreams were realized when scholarship offers came in from several schools. But that elusive, major conference opportunity was still missing.
Enter Syracuse, who noticed Cross’ talents during the spring evaluation period just a couple of months ago. An offer came shortly thereafter. Assistant coach Fred Reed was in constant communication with the talented defensive tackle since that point. It was their relationship that set the Orange apart.
”It was more of an actual relationship,” Cross said. “Not more as recruiting. Like ‘have a great week.’ When a holiday would come up, he would always DM (direct message) me on Twitter and say ‘have a great holiday.’ It was more of as personal relationship.”
That was a different message than what Cross was receiving from other schools as Reed became a father figure of sorts during the recruiting process. That let Cross know that Syracuse was the right fit, and he committed on July 2nd.
His division one football dream has become even more intense with the chance to have his dad sit in the stands one day and see him playing major college football is constantly in the back of his mind. He reminds himself of another driving force behind his work ethic.
”I have an issue with being average,” Cross said. “I never wanted to be average.”
With his recruitment out of the way, his focus turned back to becoming an elite football player. According to Cross, his dad should be out of prison while he is playing football at Syracuse. Having his father back in the stands is a moment he thinks about often.
”It’s going to be emotional,” Cross said. “It’s going to take my game up to a whole other level. Because, you know, it’s your dad. You want to make him proud.”
That work ethic will make dad proud, allow him to attain a dream that only a small percentage of high school athletes are able to achieve. Even more important will be the family reunion of sorts that will take place underneath the Carrier Dome’s inflatable roof.