BOGACZYK: For Tyler and Fuller, Grandma Knows Best
The Word on the Herd-Aug. 23, 2015
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Any basketball coach will tell you that getting a rebounding is a good thing. On occasion, a football coach will say the same.
Just ask Marshall linebackers coach Adam Fuller. The third-year Herd assistant returned to where he was before – to a rural spot in south central Florida – and he’s glad he did.
And because he did, Marshall has a solid middle linebacker candidate in junior Devontre’a Tyler – a junior college transfer who was on Fuller’s recruiting radar in 2013 after the coach had just joined Coach Doc Holliday’s program.
Tyler and his cousin, freshman defensive end Ty Tyler, are part of the Herd’s 2015 recruiting class. The former came to Marshall from junior college, with the latter from high school.
“Yes, they got in on me late,” Tyler said following Saturday’s camp scrimmage session, where he ran with the “ones” as the Herd coach held out several regulars on defense to get a better look at newcomers. “I have a little cousin who was coming here, and he talked to Coach Fuller.
“Coach Fuller was recruiting me out of high school. And my cousin reminded me about Marshall. I was coming out of junior college and had other offers. But my cousin liked Marshall, and my grandma wanted me and my cousin together here.
“So, I visited, liked everything about it, and grandma wanted it, so here we are.”
That “little cousin” Tyler talks about? He means “younger cousin.” Ty Tyler is a 6-foot-3, 248-pound lineman. Devontre’a is 6-1, 240 … and he turns age 21 on Monday.
The linebacker with the unique name – “My mom and grandma came up with it; it’s pronounced Dee-von-TRAY,” Tyler said – turned down Fuller the first time two years ago. This time, he chose the Herd over offers from Appalachian State, South Alabama, Bowling Green and North Texas, among others.
“Coach Fuller came down to my high school, DeSoto County, and we talked,” Tyler said. “He tried to get me to come then, and I said, ‘No, man, I’ll go the junior college route.’ I went out there (Iowa Western Community College) and he ended up coming back to get me. It was great.”
Tyler has been manning the mike linebacker spot with Maryland transfer Shawn Petty and redshirt sophomore Raheim Huskey, who played the weakside (will) spot Saturday. And Fuller has gotten what he and defensive coordinator Chuck Heater expected.
“Tre is a physically and mentally tough kid, and he’s extremely reliable,” Fuller said. “He brings a real physical presence to the position and he’s a pretty quick learner. It’s just his mindset, a tough-minded kid, been though a lot … you can count on him.
“He’s traveled a long road. He’s come from out there in Arcadia/Nocatee area of Florida, went off to junior college out in Iowa and every place he’s been, he’s made such a great impact, not only on the field but off the field.
“Everybody who has met Tre had nothing but good things to say about him. And the short time he’s been here, he’s had the same impact.”
Tyler, who is majoring in health sciences at MU, is working exclusively at middle linebacker to absorb the difference between JUCO and major college ball. Eventually, he’ll branch out because Fuller wants the Herd’s inside ‘backers (mike, will) to be interchangeable.
“Most of our guys who get here, first off, we play them at one spot, and once they develop we like to dual-train them,” Fuller said. “Huskey (who played last season) is now playing both positions; so does (Evan) McKelvey. D.J. Hunter (primarily the strongside linebacker) plays multiple positions. The longer they’re here, the easier it is to dual train.”
And while Fuller recruited Tyler and now coaches him, he and his new linebacker know a good portion of the credit for landing the Floridian goes to the aforementioned “grandma” – Ernestine Tyler.
“Yeah, Grandma helped recruit me,” Tyler said, smiling.
“His grandmother is a great lady,” Fuller said. “She has raised more people in that community than you can count, including Tre. We were recruiting Ty and we weren’t in a position to take another linebacker, but Ty communicated to me that Tre was visiting other schools.
“Tre contacted me and I talked to Coach Heater, talked to Doc, and we thought he was a good enough player that no matter where we were positions-wise, this was a kid we needed to go get. We thought he could help our football program, so we offered him, went out there and recruited him.”
Tyler said going against the Herd’s No. 1 offensive unit on Saturday was another chance to learn.
“I just went out there and tried to do what I’m supposed to do, and that’s make the team better,” Tyler said. “Going to junior college helped me a lot; I went up against a lot of good people. Here, the biggest difference is the competition. The coaches are more hands-on.
“Coach Fuller is teaching me a lot. He tells me to get into the playbook, go hard, play with instinct, be physical, make the play, do my job. I’m listening to him.”
Two years ago, the Herd coach might as well have been a Fuller Brush salesman as far as Tyler was concerned. That’s all changed. Tyler and Tyler are together with the Herd … and more than Grandma Ernestine is happy.