In the classic children’s book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” young Charlie Bucket finds a golden ticket in a Wonka Bar.
For former Bearcats football player Mike Tyson, the golden ticket to the NFL Scouting Combine arrived in his inbox.
“I got an email in December so I got one of the early invites,” said Tyson. “I was home in Virginia when I got the email and I looked at it and it said ‘Congratulations.’ I was so excited that I was crying and everything. It was one of the best emails that I ever got.
“The combine was a great experience. Getting the exposure, meeting all of the players from the other schools, and getting a feel for how everything will be when you’re around NFL coaches. It was fun.”
The 6’1”, 204 pound safety was timed at 4.56 in the 40-yard dash at the combine, did 17 reps at 225 pounds on the bench press, and had a vertical jump of 33 inches.
“I honestly think I did well in everything, but the defensive back drills were probably the thing I did best,” Mike told me. “Since I played nickel (at Cincinnati), teams wanted to see if I could play safety – can I move my hips and stuff like that. I did really well. So I’m pretty satisfied with what I did.
“You never know who’s watching at the combine. You have to be ready to do whatever – long days, long nights, less sleep, whatever they ask. You don’t know what you’re in for to be honest with you. You hear the rumors but you don’t know until you’re actually there. It was a blessing to be one of the 330 people invited. I wish there could have been more of my teammates, but it was a blessing to represent the University of Cincinnati.”
Although the Bearcats had a disappointing year in 2016 going 4-8, Tyson had an excellent season as he led UC with five interceptions and finished sixth on the team in tackles.
In February, AthlonSports.com listed Tyson as “one of five players who could impress during the combine” and wrote the following:
Make no mistake, this kid is capable of making a name for himself. He’s an intelligent safety, rarely out of position and always close to the ball. He’s as seasoned as any safety in the draft, as he started accruing snaps early as a freshman. Athletically, look for him to hang with the top prospects in his position group, while his knowledge of the game and maturity set him apart during the interview process. He has all of the makings of a solid, long-term starter at the next level.
One thing that should work in Tyson’s favor is the versatility that he displayed at Cincinnati. As the nickel in the Bearcats’ 4-2-5 base defense under the former coaching staff, Mike was a hybrid linebacker/safety who played a key role in stopping the run but also had to defend slot receivers in pass coverage.
“That ability is important to NFL teams because of all the talent you have at slot receiver,” said Tyson. “You’ve got big, fast, athletic tight ends. You’ve got tall outside receivers moving inside. And you’ve got a bunch of small, skimpy types of dudes. It was good exposure for me and shows that you can hold your own. As a safety I’m comfortable moving into the box to stop the run if they want to do that. Or if they want to use me as a defensive back in the nickel or the dime they know I can do that. Whatever they need me to do.”
The three-day NFL draft begins on Thursday and while Tyson hopes to hear his name called, he knows that he doesn’t need to get drafted to make an NFL roster.
“I’m not the type of guy to try to get my hopes up,” said Tyson. “I’m hearing middle rounds is possible, but we’ll see what happens. I know I’m going to be in somebody’s camp – that’s a guarantee. Hopefully I’ll get drafted but if I don’t, it’s no big deal. I’ll still go to somebody’s camp and prove what I have.”
I’d love to hear from you at Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net
If you’re on Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard
And I’m on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dan.hoard.1