Bearcats safety Mike Tyson packs a punch…tattoos the wide receiver…will look to take a bite out of the opponent’s passing attack.
When you share a name with the controversial former boxing champ, the one-liners are inevitable.
“Yeah, everybody jokes about his name,” said linebacker Nick Temple.
“I always hear, ‘Are you related to Mike Tyson? Or is your name really Mike Tyson?’” the sophomore safety told me. “Some people think that I’m lying, but I’m telling the truth. It was my dad’s name and it runs in the family.”
Cincinnati’s Mike Tyson is from the Tidewater region of Virginia and got into nine games for the Bearcats as a true freshman last season, finishing with 18 tackles and two interceptions. This year he’s been lining up with the first team defense in training camp as the safety opposite of Zach Edwards.
“He’s so much more comfortable than he was last year,” said head coach Tommy Tuberville. “Last year he didn’t have a clue about what he was doing but we had to play him. I think playing last year helped him some. He’s grown up, he’s a lot more comfortable with what we’re doing in zone and man, and he and Zach work well together. It’s going to give us a pretty good one-two punch for the next few years if we can just keep them healthy.”
“Last year I just played on athletic ability,” said Tyson. “I knew some things, but not a lot. My understanding of the defense is much better now.”
“I think he’s really progressed,” said defensive coordinator Hank Hughes. “When you’re a freshman, everything is brand new but he’s doing a good job of catching on to the scheme and playing aggressive and physical.”
The most memorable moment of Tyson’s freshman year was a 95-yard interception return against UConn. Unfortunately, as he neared the goal line, the Cincinnati safety had the ball punched out of his hands and it rolled through the back of the end zone for a touchback (click here to hear the radio call).
“To be honest, I was really tired,” said Tyson. “I was holding the ball wrong and a dude came up from behind and stripped it. I think about that play all the time – every time I play football I think about it. I look at it as a gift and something that I have to build on.”
Tyson says it was a gift because he knows that he’ll never make the same mistake again.
“You got that right,” he said with a laugh.
While UC’s coaching staff is obviously looking for Tyson to intercept and deflect passes, he’ll also be counted on to help stop the run. At 6’2” and a chiseled 200 pounds, the sophomore has the potential to add an intimidation factor to the secondary.
“We could put him at linebacker today and he would play pretty solid for us,” said Tuberville. “He doesn’t shy away from contact – he likes it.”
After all, you would expect a football player named Mike Tyson to hit hard right?
“It’s not a bad name at all for a safety,” said Temple. “It’s a good name actually.”
So what does UC’s Mike Tyson think of sharing a name with the former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world?
“I’m more of a Muhammed Ali fan,” he said with a grin.
I’d love to hear from you at Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net
If you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard
And I’m on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dan.hoard.1