This week’s guest has a high motor that has helped him emerge as a leader of the McKinney football team and the program’s most highly recruited player.
Please get comfortable and relax while taking in the McKinney Courier-Gazette’s Sunday Spotlight conversation with Lions rising junior defensive end Mitchell Tyler.
How hard was it adjusting from playing TAPPS football to Class 6A football for McKinney last season?
Tyler: The adjustment was not too difficult because I was able to come to McKinney High at the end of my sophomore year in time for spring ball. That spring of 2018 was when I adjusted to a different level of competition among teammates.
Because I participated in spring ball last year, that change between TAPPS football and Class 6A football was not as dramatic as it would have been if I had not been able to go through spring.
What is very different is the size of the venues and the amount of people watching. That’s not difficult, but more fun. The transition wasn’t hard.
What goes into the difficult workouts you and your team must go through during the offseason to get better?
Tyler: This past offseason was nothing like I’ve ever undergone as an athlete. The weight room workouts were all fast-paced, as they usually are, but the conditioning station days were the real test.
Our running days this offseason was all centered around preparing my teammates and I for the grit of an actual football game. There were strength stations like tire flips and weighted sled pushes, we had change-of-direction stations and sprint stations, and we also had a flexibility station.
One of our stations was called “poles,” which was definitely the most physical conditioning exercise I’ve done. You do a full-sprint bear crawl over these telephone poles covered in carpet, making sure not to touch them. If you overtake someone, the expectation is to somehow get past, or pushing them over. That was an exhausting but competitive workout that definitely has prepared our team for next season.
What do you have to improve upon individually this summer to be the player you want to be next fall?
Tyler: I immediately think of two things: pass rush and heart rate conditioning. I don’t think I can ever work too much of either of those things. I think the more I work on those things, the better I’ll be able to do my part for the team.
Those are also skills I can work on by myself as well as coaches and teammates, and I’ll have plenty of opportunities to work on them during this summer leading
up to the season.
How has McKinney head football coach Marcus Shavers impacted you as a person and a football player?
Tyler: Coach Shavers is one of the best coaches I’ve ever had. He has really shown me that there is a connection between living life and playing football.
We work really hard to prepare for scrimmages and games. There’s a lot of discipline that goes into preparing for everything – a lot of physical rigor, rules, and high expectations, but when Friday night rolls around, I find that we’re prepared for the task at hand.
We’re always physically and mentally prepared to play a football game well, and not only that but to enjoy doing it. Because of the hard work, Friday nights are fun.
That certainly translates to how I should live my life: Prepare and work out the things that need improvement in my character and relationships off the field, but for a reason.
That reason is to be able to enjoy life by living and loving the people around me. Coach Shavers teaches us all of those things through what kind of leader and coach he is. He’s preparing us to be as enthusiastic about living and being men as we are about playing football, and that’s a lesson I’ll be able to carry forever.
Who is your role model and how have they impacted your life on and off the field?
Tyler: My role models are my parents. My dad has set a great example of what it looks like to lead people firmly but also with compassion. He’s hard-working and patient; he takes things as they come and makes the best out of any situation. My mom is extremely welcoming and kind to people she meets, genuinely expecting the best of everyone.
My dad’s example of leadership and work ethic has formed how I approach football practices, workouts and games. Both of my parents continue to show me what it looks like to be a man who can genuinely expect the best out of people I meet, having patience in adverse situations and continuing to do what I know to be my job when things are difficult.
What were the emotions you and your teammates felt after beating Boyd last season to make the playoffs and end the nine-year winless drought in the “Crosstown Showdown”?
Tyler: The Boyd game was one of the most fun sporting events I’ve ever been a part of, and certainly the most exciting win I’ve been a part of as a player. At the end of that game, my teammates and I didn’t really know what to do with ourselves.
We were all smiling, yelling, running around, hugging. We all felt that it was about time the McKinney Lions beat Boyd. We didn’t like that Boyd called beating us a “tradition,” and finally being able to say we beat them was a pretty awesome feeling.
All that excitement was heightened by the fact that beating our crosstown
rival meant we had a playoff opportunity in front of us. That night was probably the time I felt most proud to be a McKinney Lion because it was the last game of the regular season and we went from an 0-5 start to nearly winning out, beating our crosstown rival, and making it to playoffs.
It was a proud moment for all of us that we still talk about.
How big of a goal is it for the Lions to return to the playoffs and win the program’s first playoff game in 21 seasons?
Tyler: Making the playoffs is the goal for us. That’s what we’re after next season. Yes, we want to have a better start and beat our rivals, but we want to bring a playoff win back to MHS next year.
From all the work our coaches, my teammates and I have put in this offseason and
seeing our technical improvement from last year, there’s certainly more weight attached to the idea of achieving that goal. Without a doubt, we have the ability to bring a few trophies home this fall, and I am excited to get going this August so we can start that journey as a team.
What does it mean to you to be a McKinney Lion and how has being a part of this football program impacted your life?
Tyler: Being a McKinney Lion for me means exceeding peoples’ expectations of what I do. On the athletic side of things, people have never expected a lot out of McKinney High football since I’ve been here.
Last season, we were able to prove a lot of people wrong in what we did during district play, making history with a win against Boyd and digging ourselves out of a pretty deep hole of five losses. Another side of that has to do with personal character.
How my teammates and I treat the people around us is a lot more important than how well we do on a Friday night. If all the McKinney Lions become great football players but never trust others with respect or live with good character, I don’t think we’ve really won anything.
Exceeding the expectation that people have of you as a person has been a big message from coaches and staff during my time at McKinney High.