Versatile Tyrell Lyons Comments on Nice Spring Game


FSU’s Tyrell Lyons opened up about his switch to linebacker, overcoming hesitation, and developing instincts at the linebacker position. 

One of the major story lines of Florida State’s spring practices was certainly the Seminoles’ depleted linebacker corps. Numerous ‘backers missed time, including Terrance Smith, Reggie Northrup, and Matthew Thomas. Injuries are never a good thing for a team, but sometimes they can give other players a chance to shine. In Saturday’s Spring Game, Tyrell Lyons showed himself to be one of those players.

Lyons, of Jacksonville’s First Coast High School, was a sought-after recruit in 2013, in part due to the versatility that enabled him to play both defensive back and linebacker. He held offers from Ohio State, Miami, Ole Miss, Clemson, and South Carolina.

He chose Florida State and began his career at FSU as a defensive back, redshirting in 2013 and playing sparingly last season, but that versatility has paid dividends this spring, as Lyons has successfully transitioned to linebacker. He started at that spot with the first-team defense in Saturday’s scrimmage and acquitted himself very well. Lyons finished second on the Gold team with seven tackles (the same number as Jalen Ramsey), a sack, a tackle for loss, a forced fumble, and a pass breakup.

Lyons spoke with media about his selfless reason for making the change to linebacker: “The only opportunity right now was linebacker. So I said, coach, I’ll take it. He gave me an opportunity, and I seized it today.”

Of course, the depleted linebacker group meant less bodies to rotate in during hot spring practices, and Lyons weighed in on that as follows:

"“It was a great challenge, everyday. It was just me and Ro’Derrick [Hoskins] and some walk-ons, so me and Ro’Derrick really had to fight everyday with, really, mental toughness. Because we were tired, but we had to keep going, and going, and going, and going, just telling ourselves, ‘we got it, we got it,’ because we were so tired out there. So we just kept pushing, every day.”"

But, as was the case with the injuries that facilitated Lyons’ opportunity, there was a benefit to that extra time spent grinding in the Tallahassee sun. I asked him about the helpfulness of those added reps: “Oh, yes it was very helpful. Because at first I was just, like, so hesitant with everything I’d do at this new position. I was like, ‘what do I do, what do I do,’ and as I kept going along, with the reps I was getting, I got better and better and better.”

And for Lyons, switching positions isn’t a demotion– it’s a sacrifice he made willingly to help his team. He sees such versatility, in fact, as an added strength for the defense, and pointed out that he’s around others who have done the same:

"“Oh I think it’s going to be very helpful. I mean, the coaches know what they’re doing, as in, you know, the guys on defense that multitask, like Jalen played three positions, I played two positions, Trey Marshall, he played two different positions, so it’s pretty much like we don’t think of it like, I don’t want to play this position, because we all can multitask. I really think it’s just making the team better, whoever goes where somebody can fill in.”"

But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a challenge. Schemes and acclimation are one thing, but Lyons said head coach Jimbo Fisher also challenged him personally:

"“Oh yeah, he did challenge me a lot– with my eyes, with the guards, and the way that they were moving, reading my keys, so I feel like I got a lot better today, from the first day, when I got there in the middle of the season when so many guys were hurt, I was just so hesitant and frustrated. Again, it was just out of my head. I just kept pushing and fighting, and I made the best of it.”"

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For Lyons, the Spring Game provided the perfect stage to demonstrate the leaps and bounds he’s made at his new position: “When I get in a game situation, it really turns on. Like it just snaps. Like it’s just a whole different mindset. I’m ready like, hey, I’m getting ready to go. I’m goin’.”

A game situation, per Lyons, allow his instincts to take over: “Yeah my instincts come out more; any position that the coaches want to put me at, it’s going to come. When I see the ball, I’m coming.”

That’s good news for the FSU linebackers and the entire Seminole defense. And if he continues to develop and look like he did against the first-team Florida State offense, it could be very bad news for opposing offenses in the fall.