Saddleback TE Jonathan Lyons

This is the year of the tight end in community college football. No question about it. You can find 'em tall and athletic, compact and strong, prototype D1 size...whatever make and model you want. Saddleback College tight end, Jon Lyons, certainly fits into one of the 'desirable' categories based on early attention from four-year schools.

Jon Lyons
6-6, 250
Saddleback College
Carmel High School

Four-year colleges are beating the pavement looking for tall, athletic tight ends who can run and catch like wide receivers. Coaches are looking for the next Jeremy Stevens (6-7), who was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the first round out of Washington. And ex-NE Oklahoma A&M and Miami Hurricanes tight end, Jeremy Shockey (6-5), who was drafted by the NY Giants with the fourteenth overall pick. Both of these guys have soft hands and posed tremendous mismatches against slower, much smaller linebackers.

Lyons showed up at the SoCal Combine and turned heads with his overall performance in testing and in drills.

Forty: 4.74
Shuttle: 4.58
Vertical: 26"

He has come a long way since his days at Carmel High School in northern California where he was a wide receiver.

"I had a real good career at Carmel, which is a small high school. I was about 6-5, 210 and didn't play football until my sophomore year," said Lyons, who had been more focused on baseball. "One of the baseball coaches was also a football coach and he got me to turn out."

That coach knew what he was doing.

Lyons made All-League his junior season and then All-League and All-Conference his senior season. His standout game was against rival Pacific Grove, a team that he torched for about 210 yards on nine receptions. On defense he caused two fumbles and recorded a sack. Somewhere in there he managed to score a pair of touchdowns, too.

According to Lyons, Fresno State and Idaho showed a lot of interest in him after his senior season in 1999, but he was looking for different options. A broken leg suffered during the summer after graduation certainly necessitated his pursuing a community college career. He took a close look at nearby Monterey Peninsula College, but a friend playing baseball at Saddleback lured him to the southland. Lyons sat patiently through a redshirt year in 2000.

The 2001 season was a year of learning and knocking the rust off for Lyons, who sat on the depth chart behind starter Matt Garner (SDSU; out of football).

"We didn't have much of a tight end set last year. I only had one catch," said Lyons. Changes are on the horizon, however, according to both Lyons and Head Coach Mark McElroy.

"We haven't utilized tight ends in the past like we're going to this year because we've got Jonathan," said an enthusiastic McElroy. "He can flat out play. Jonathan has a positive attitude and is mature for his age mentally. We fully expect not only great things on the field but also as a team leader"

When asked to categorize himself, Lyons says that he's more of a pass-catching tight end than a blocker. But he quickly adds that he's no slouch in the blocking department either.

To improve his strength Lyons has spent time on the Saddleback track team throwing the shot and discuss. His coach? None other than the offensive line coach.

"I'm in the best shape I've ever been in. Stronger than I've been," said Lyons, who run forties in the 4.6 range.

It looks good for Lyons on the football field and also in the classroom where he has just finished two summer school courses. He will graduate in December and is also a full qualifier. Add it all up and there's a great package for four-year coaches.

Recruiting attention thus far has come from Washington, Kansas State, USC, New Mexico State, and many others. Between thirty and forty schools came by Saddleback practices in the spring. UNLV wants Lyons to trip and one school even tried to sign him before the fall.

"I would like to play in the Pac-10 outside California. Somewhere new. All I want to do is figure a way to get a free education," said Lyons, who is excited about the Saddleback squad.

The free education seems a part of his future. But for now he will focus on helping his team win and hope for a few more balls to be thrown his way.

Look for our Saddleback Preview story soon...

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