More than Second Place, Tyler is in a Good Place

  • December 9, 2019

BY JAY GREENBERG

NEW YORK – All of the football awards ceremonies in the world and Jeremiah Tyler just happened to be up for the same one, in the same year, as Jack Traynor. That’s the way the Princeton linebacker, announced as the second best defensive player in the Ivy League for 2019 on Monday afternoon here, looked at it.

“There isn’t a player here who didn’t work as hard as I did,” said Tyler, runner-up for the defensive Asa S. Bushnell Cup to Dartmouth’s Traynor. “This was a great experience just to be here.”

“I’m looking forward to being here next year.”

As Dartmouth Coach Buddy Teevens said from the dais at the New York Hilton Midtown, where the televised presentation was made in conjunction with annual dinner of the National Football Foundation: “For the guys who are leaving, congratulations. For the guys staying, I don’t want to worry about you right now, but see you next year.”

Among the guys Bob Surace ’90 doesn’t want to stress about right now is Brown junior quarterback E.J. Perry, who was runner-up to offensive honoree Kurt Rawlings, the senior quarterback of Yale.  Tyler, who led the Ivy League with 18 tackles for a loss in the 2019 season, remains another year’s nightmare for seven other Ivy coaches who vote on the Bushnell.

Seniority may count to some of them as they vote but juniors, including Quinn Epperly ’15 in 2013 and John Lovett ’19 in 2016, have been among Princeton’s 10 Bushnell winners.  Dartmouth safety Isiah Swann was a junior when he was honored in 2019 and had another strong year, one more reason to make Traynor appreciative. He realizes he had to be pretty good for some coaches to think he was more worthy of the honor than Tyler.

“There are not a lot of guys that you enjoy watching but Jeremiah is one of them,” said Traynor. “It’s just a matter of time until he is up here accepting this award.”

Sadly, next year never came for Princeton’s Kurt Holuba ’19, runner up in 2016 and well on his way to earning the award in 2017 when he suffered the first of two knee operations that ended his career. Knock on wood, Tyler automatically becomes next year’s favorite, and unlike for the Heisman, voted upon by media people who necessarily have to vote on statistics and broad impressions, the Ivy coaches who selected this award actually had to plot against the nominees.

“Obviously, JT had a lot of respect.” said Surace, whose teams have produced 10 Bushnell nominees and winners Mike Catapano ’13, Mike Zeuli ’15, Lovett (twice), Chad Kanoff ’18, and Epperly in 10 seasons.

“You always want to win, you know that. But how many guys played defense in the Ivy League this year?  Top two is pretty awesome as a junior.”

To Gerald Tyler, Jeremiah’s father, his son being a finalist was a validation of more than what the coaches saw on video.

“Disappointed?” said Tyler Sr., who flew in from Detroit and joined Tigers Collin Eaddy, Matt Winston, Dylan Classi, Delan Stallworth, Trevor Forbes and John Orr, as a front six of Princeton support at the presentation. “Are you kidding me, of all the players in the Ivy League, to be up for such a prestigious award such as this?”

“He’s here today because of his desire to excel academically, too. He had an opportunity to play other places. He made a decision he wanted the best of both worlds and I supported him all the way.”

“He might have come in second.  But he’s a winner.”

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