When you have been in the football recruiting/evaluation business for almost twenty-five years, you meet many good people along the way. Being on the sidelines before and during games, once in a while a player from the past will walk up to me and introduce himself. Always fun to renew memories and friendships. Before last night's game at New Albany, I was totally surprised to see Ty Howard.
Ty Howard? First, I will tell you that Ty played football for the Buckeyes way back when. I am guessin about 1995-1997. At 5'9-180, he played with every ounce of ability that he had. He could run and, most of all, would finish. Excellent open field tackler. Good recovery speed. All of the tools, but only 5'9. What I remember most was not his football talents. Ty was a Columbus inner-city guy who respected people, and, most of all, did everything with class.
One story. Back then I did more or a "Lemming-type thing" where I met the propects, took their picture, and interviewd them. I met Ty at his home and visited with him on his front porch. After about ten minutes, I asked him to quit answering my every question with "Yes sir," or "No sir.." That lasted for about five minutes and then it was back to "Yes sir," or "No, sir."
Second story. When I saw him play against Columbus South High School, I knew he was special. He had a bad knee and the defenders were trying to hurt his knee. I believe it was still in the first half that Ty had had enough. He fought back and was ejected from the game. Since he was the only college prospect on the field, my work was over. I made a point to tell him that I had driven 65 miles to watch him play for a quarter and a half. Went on to say that I was disappointed (maybe some slang) and that he is going have to learn to control his emotions (maybe some more slang). After graduating from Briggs High School and Ohio State University, he spent four or five years in the League. Last team was with the Bengals, I believe.
Ty has moved back to Central Ohio and is coaching football at New Albany High School. His son Tyrell (2014) is a starting corner for New Albany. Like his father, Tyrell plays with all of his ability. Backpedals well and has good hips. Like his father, he was not blessed with height, but he gives effort. Only a junior, if he continues to work hard and stretch an inch, or maybe two, he should be fine. Obviously, sizes and times have increased since "Pop" ran the ball for Briggs High School over twenty years ago, but strength of character will always be important. If he is like his dad, Tyrell should have a chance.
As crazy as this may sound, I still have a picture from the Columbus Dispatch of Ty and his family celebrating the Christmas season. At least, it is in a drawer someplace. Not a Christmas present, but seeing Ty Howard last night was really good. Reminising for five minutes was good for me. Of course, I gave him my "five minute Woody Hayes lecture," on paying forward. Seeing young Africian American coaches who have "been there" working with high school football players is huge.
Now that I think about it, I can not remember Ty saying, "Yes sir," or "No sir," last night. But the class was still there. I would expect none the less.