From small town Alabama to UT-Chattanooga’s football team, follow four quarters in the life of Juwan Tyus.
By Jaice Caver
VERBENA, Ala. — Growing up in a small town in the South, there might not be much to do. But for Juwan Tyus, it is where he found his passion for football.
Tyus joined the youth league football team at the age of 8, where he played wide receiver and tight end positions. Tyus soon realized it was not the love for football that had him play; it was a rite of passage. His grandfather, brother, and friends all played for the Verbena Red Devils Football team and he wanted to be a part of that.
A few years later, Tyus finished his little league football career with no intentions of turning back. Tyus devoted his time to playing in the Armature Athletic Union (AAU) Travel Basketball League. Through his time of playing AAU basketball Tyus believed he found his calling, his love for basketball became unparalleled to any other sport.
It was not until his sophomore year of high school that Tyus decided to pick up a football again. Coaches at Verbena High School thought his potential would make him a good player for the team. So, Tyus decided to give football another try.
After returning to the field, Tyus started to realize how intriguing it was to him and how important he was to the team.
“It was exciting, especially coming from a small town like Verbena, everyone knew each other at all the games we had. It was a small stadium but always packed,” said Tyus.
Soon after, Tyus began receiving many awards and recognition. Tyus was named offensive player of the year, and leading yards for Chilton County throughout his three years on the team. He was also awarded 2A Player of the Year and made All-State his senior year. The name Juwan Tyus began to get recognition by colleges and the offers started pouring in.
On signing day, Tyus began to realize the surreal moment that he would be attending a Division 1 school for football and not basketball. He signed and would soon be a member of the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga Mocks Football Team (UTC).
“My mind was set for football, but my heart was always in love with basketball,” said Tyus. “That’s what I mean by it was a bittersweet moment — it could’ve gone either way to me, but signing to football I feel like was the right decision.”
Preparing himself for college football, Tyus continued his training at Mad House Fitness in Montgomery, Ala., where he had the chance to gain knowledge from Division 1 and NFL players.
Months later, Tyus started his football summer practices at UTC. Not knowing what to expect, he went in with his mind centered on keeping God first and giving his all to football and school.
Leading into the first game against Eastern Illinois, Tyus, number 88, did not know how to feel or think. He just prayed and knew that it would all come together like it generally did when he got the ball in his hand.
“The game was moving fast, a lot faster, until you actually get to the game, it’s like you play so fast, that the game slows down,” is how Tyus explained the game.
At the end of freshman year, Tyus kept looking forward to what was next to come. In the off season, he worked hard, prayed, and perfected his skills. Advancing into his sophomore season, Tyus gained his starting position as wide receiver, where he has been playing for the past two years.
Tyus says it has been a dream to play Division 1 ball with great athletes who will one day be in the league. The game is nowhere near done for Tyus, as his dream of playing for the NFL will be in his reach soon.
“In every plan you’re always going to have something in the back of your mind that will have you with that concern, that you may not be doing this forever, but you can’t think like that you have to think ahead to the future, to actually elevate , and always get better at what you want to do, and any dream you have is possible as long as you keep believing and keep God first.”