Photo courtesy of Tyler Williams
Midway through the 2023 football season on Oct. 18, Mary Hardin-Baylor picked up a commitment from Tyler Williams, a transfer defensive end from Southern Nazarene University. Williams was a standout on the edge for Dallas Christian High School, helping the Chargers capture the 2021 D-III TAPPS State Title.
Recently, True To The Cru’s Riley Zayas had the chance to talk with Williams about his commitment to The Cru, visiting campus, and playing high school football for a dominant program. Below is a Q&A from the conversation.
Starting with your commitment to UMHB…As you entered the transfer portal from SNU, what made UMHB the university and football program for you?
TW: “The fit [played a big role for me]. Due to unfortunate circumstances where I was at, it just wasn’t a great fit for me. So I talked with my parents and decided to enter the portal and look for other schools that would benefit me and my skill set. UMHB just happened to come across and ended up being perfect. Talking with the coaches, it happened to be God’s will. I came out and checked out the school and it turned out to be a great fit.”
UMHB tends to recruit the Dallas-area a good amount. Were you familiar with UMHB coming out of Dallas Christian?
TW: “They do recruit this area quite a bit and I was familiar with UMHB, but wasn’t actively recruited by them out of high school. But yes, I was familiar. My previous head coach is great friends with some of the coaches on the staff, so that was a plus as well when I was looking into UMHB.”
You mentioned the fact that you were able to come down to campus for a visit before you committed. How impactful was that?
TW: “I was able to come down and check out the campus on the Friday following the Sul Ross State game. It made it more personal, and I was able to talk to the coaches, and actually see how the setup would look, and if it was a good fit for me. As I did that, it checked off all the boxes that I was looking for. When I toured the school, the academics and student population was very welcoming. It felt very much like home. That turned the ball over for me.”
What were your thoughts on Crusader Stadium?
TW: “I was shocked. The facilities are outstanding. They’re very well taken care of. You don’t see a lot of D-III facilities like that. The stadium, the locker room, the practice facility; everything was top-notch. I loved it. When I came on campus, I thought, ‘Wow. This is really the real deal here.’”
As you look back on the last few years, where do you feel you’ve made the biggest strides in your skill set?
TW: “I feel like where I’ve really made improvement from high school and coming into college is as a run-stopper. My strong suit is edge rushing. That’s my perfection. But these past few years, especially being in college with the experience I have now, I feel like my game has really gotten better at run-stopping. Being able to fit the run, clog those holes, and stop the running back from coming downhill and making those big runs. That’s what I’d say I’ve gained the most knowledge at. That was my weakest point, and I made a decision to better my overall self and strengthen my weaknesses. These past two years or so I’ve really worked at that.”
Your senior season, Dallas Christian went 12-1 and beat Houston Second Baptist in the TAPPS D-III State Championship. What was it like to finish your high school career on top?
TW: “We’d been there since my sophomore year. You have to give all the praise to Mike Wheeler. The program has been exceptionally run and the discipline has come in and played a key factor in all the wins. Just like Mary Hardin-Baylor, where the team is very well disciplined and wins a lot, that’s what I would say about Dallas Christian. We take it seriously and it is a true brotherhood. When we come and play, we play.”
Over your final two seasons, Dallas Christian went 22-2 and played in two state title games. That’s incredible. You mentioned it a little bit a second ago, but what was the key to that consistency?
TW: “In practices and film study, we truly came together and made one another better. Throughout the time over those hard practices, and days and nights of us working hard, it all came together for us. When we got a win, we let that win go and prepared for the next week. We tried to keep that 1-0 mentality. We had a bigger and higher goal and went after it.”
Do you have a favorite memory from your high school career?
TW: “I would say my favorite memory is winning that first state championship [in 2021]. The previous year we had a loss in the state championship and lost by a hail mary to Regents. I remember that whole summer, we dedicated ourselves to getting back [to state] and winning it as a team. We wanted it so bad, because we had it at our fingertips and lost. So that summer we worked and during the season, we won and won and won. But those wins during the season weren’t good enough. And when those last few seconds came in the state championship game, and we kneeled the clock out and won, it was so sensational because all the work we put in finally paid off.”
You have Psalms 118:24 in your X/Twitter bio. What does that verse mean to you?
TW: “That’s a verse that I always live by. I always listened to it, and understood it, but when I got older, I really read and understood it more for myself. Psalms 118:24 says “For this is the day the Lord has made, I shall rejoice and be glad in it.” I feel like every day that I wake up, I should be glad that God woke me up and that means that I should fulfill every opportunity that I get to make this day useful. You never know if you’re going to get this opportunity or day back.”