Feb. 17, 2012
Read John Denton's Knights Insider |
By Brian Ormiston
Before UCF opens spring football March 13, UCFAthletics.com will focus on the Knights' new coaches who have joined the staff for the upcoming season. First up is UCF linebackers coach Tyson Summers.
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Singing The Bare Necessities from The Jungle Book brings images of Mowgli and Baloo the bear joining together as one. Being raised by wolves, this connection helped develop Mowgli on his eventful path through childhood.
Tyson Summers may not have enjoyed the pleasure of dancing with wild animals growing up in Tifton, Ga., yet there was one certainty in his life: football. Surrounded by football coaches almost every day, UCF's linebackers coach went through a difficult journey as a youngster which ultimately shaped who is today.
"My dad was a football coach and he died right before I turned three," said Summers, whose father was a running back at Florida. "I'm an only child and my mother raised me, but I was very fortunate for the fact that the coaches who were on the staff with my father were there for 18 years. So those guys raised me as much as anybody."
And football remained flooding his bloodstream to the point where Summers would work any tedious task just to be associated with the game he was destined to be around.
"I don't have a memory without it," smiled Summers, who joined the UCF staff in January. "I can remember going into the weight room with the coaches when I was about three or four years old. They were one of the first high school coaching staffs in the state which had their players lifting weights all the time in the early 1980s. I remember being scared to death in there.
"When I turned four I started going to football camp one night a week, and by the time I was six I started going for the whole week as a manager, ball boy, water boy, whatever they needed. I learned a lot of good things, as well as a lot of things I needed later on in life. When you're a young kid, the players are the people you looked up to the most. And you just kind of stay out of trouble with the coaches. That was the neatest part for me, just being around the players."
Experiencing countless memories translated into his own playing career, which enabled Summers to compete for high school coaches with ties to the next level. All of a sudden, he was on his way to Presbyterian College in South Carolina.
Those high school coaches had playing and coaching connections with Tommy Spangler, defensive coordinator at Presbyterian. Looking for a place to be a leader and a captain, Summers jumped at the opportunity to walk on with the Blue Hose, and ultimately earned a scholarship. However it seemed he actually had trouble convincing family and friends in his hometown he indeed played college ball.
"I can remember it was not until my junior year when I had a T-shirt I brought home at Christmas to solidify to everyone that I was on a college football team," reflected Summers. "The coaches and my teammates were great. We had good people who won and treated everyone well. We had great camaraderie."
Comparing his collegiate lifestyle to FBS football in 2012, Summers hopes student-athletes across the country realize just how good they have it these days.
"I think some players at the Division I level take for granted all of the things that come with being a Division I football player," said Summers. "I don't think many at this level understand how spoiled they are with some of the stuff they are able to get. They are fortunate in terms of class scheduling, academic staff and support staff, and I don't think they realize how many people's entire lives are dedicated to them."
Entering coaching with Tift County High School in Georgia immediately after graduating in 2002, Summers started climbing, working with five-different coaching staffs before settling down at UAB from 2007-11. And thanks to squaring off with UCF for five-straight seasons, his knowledge of the Knights' program expanded each year.
"Having been in C-USA East for the last five years, I already had a good feel for the offense and the personnel," said Summers, who worked with the Blazers' linebackers before spending time with the safeties and as co-special teams coordinator in 2011. "The base defense and the base offense have stayed very similar over the years so I felt like I had a good feel for the system at UCF when I accepted the job here. Coach Neil Callaway at UAB has a good relationship and has a lot of respect for head coach George O'Leary. And I'm from south Georgia which is about three to four hours away, while my mother is from Bartow, Fla., so the program wasn't foreign to me."
Only one month into his position with the Black and Gold, Summers is craving more.
"It's been great at UCF. Coach O'Leary has been unbelievable to work for, I've enjoyed working for him every second of every day. You know exactly where you stand and your expectations every day. It's very thorough and very detailed, and he cares about our players. They have the greatest daily schedule of anyone I have ever seen, from the dorms to academics to morning practice to the weight room. And they still have time where they have an opportunity to be college students too.
"We've got a very new defensive staff, but everyone has completely bought in to what we are trying to do here, and continue the legacy UCF has had on defense. The players are going to buy into you or they won't, and that's our jobs as football coaches to sell this defense and sell ourselves as well."
While assisting in UCF's tireless efforts leading up to Signing Day, and now preparing seven days a week for spring football, Summers did find a way to get his personal life in order as the moving truck arrived from Birmingham Feb. 16. Taking care of his family has been priority No. 1 as his wife Beth and two children understand the life he lives as a football coach.
"My wife is a nurse who has always worked the night shift ever since we've been married," said Summers. "Usually during the season at UAB, Thursday was the coaches' night to get home a little early so I'd be home by around 5:45 p.m. and she was usually walking out the door at 6 p.m. I have my two boys, Jake who just turned four and Walker who is about to be two, and I had to bathe them, feed them and put them to sleep. Friday morning I would get them up and go to our church for school, so I would drop them off and be at work at 7:30 a.m. She would come home about 8 a.m. and sleep, then pick up the kids in the afternoon. Her hospital gave her some leverage as she was about a month ahead with her calendar, and coach Callaway was about two to three months ahead so it worked out well for both of us.
"The most important people in the lives of football coaches are family. The job that we ask our wives to do is amazing. So we could see each other more, after morning practices at UAB Beth brought lunch to my office every day. They have to be independent and strong-willed and they have to be able to buy into the team concept and the program part of it, the same way anyone else does. Because at the end of the day, the more hours we work and the amount of stress that goes into it, the people who you lose your time with is your own children and your wife."
If Summers were to sit back for a moment in his new office at the Wayne Densch Sports Center and ponder what his bare necessities have been throughout his life, it would be pretty clear that list would consist solely of family and football.