I had the pleasure of interviewing a new player on the Dallas Cowboys Camp roster, a smart, team-oriented, hard working wide receiver out of Southern Utah University named Tysson Poots. From what we keep hearing from Coach Garrett about the "right kind of guy" and players that "approach things the right way," it doesn't seem shocking that Tysson found his way to the Cowboys training camp. Summa Cum Laude graduate, a masters in his sights after football, a player that is either a perfect fit (or a very good student) for Jason Garrett and the team culture he's instilling. While talking with Tysson I couldn't help but picture Garrett nodding in approval at the responses as I was writing them down (and as such take full responsibility for minor mistakes in transcription and statements taken out of order).
"I am enjoying practice and learning a lot at the same time.
Great environment, especially if you're willing to work hard to be successful.
Nothing is ever promised, you have to work hard at what you do."
Tysson Poots has had an "intense" couple of days since the Cowboys signed the undrafted rookie, and while he also had quick-paced practices at SUU, the speed, intensity, and copious amounts of information at the NFL level requires some getting used to...and lots of studying. Personally, it sounds like he is approaching things the right way. Tysson explained that practice drills and reps are not only quick-paced, but rarely interrupted. If the drill or play is run properly, then the team moves on to the next. If there is a mistake, then you repeat until you do it right. The process does not slow down or stall at mistakes. The tempo isn't interrupted for long explanations. What needs to be corrected is simply stated and things are run again until executed correctly. The mistakes will be analyzed and discussed in meetings and in the film room. As Tysson put it, and likely a mantra at the 2011 Training Camp:
"It's about making yourself better on the field while off of it."
More about Tysson Poots and Cowboys Training Camp after the jump...
Tysson is listed at 6'02" / 215lbs and considers himself more of a possession receiver. In college he had a lot of experience and is most comfortable finding the open spots while running routes in tight spaces over the middle, raising his game at catching passes in tight windows. His top speed is not his greatest asset and stretching the field is not his specialty, so at first, it seemed surprising when he mentioned that at Cowboys Camp he is getting more work as an outside receiver.
But then I remembered that Jason Garrett and Jimmy Robinson are more than clever coaches. In a grand design, if you have a player battling for a roster spot and you have seen what he can do in college, then the first thing to test at training camp is whether the player can do the things you haven't seen. While Tysson ran a lot of shorter routes in college, he is currently getting used to the conditioning and technique required for all the 20+ yard deep routes that he has been running at camp, catching throws most college quarterbacks can't make. The strong parts of his game getting recognized at practices are likely his natural pass-catching ability (good hands) and physical play for jump balls (35" vertical to match).
But every day at an NFL camp is a struggle. As mentioned earlier, practices on the field are a large part of the day, but there are morning meetings, weight room schedules, afternoon meetings, and lots of studying on your free time. Throughout the interview, I was trying to picture how Coach Garrett is combining his concepts of an intense, well organized, and competitive camp, Tysson explained.
"Messages are communicated well and they explain the best approach to the process.
There is a lot of competition, I enjoy it, but if you don't keep up you'll get left behind as the rest of the team progresses. You are expected and urged to ask questions and catch up."
This is not to imply that the tone is barbaric sink-or-swim. Tysson discussed how everyone that is competing also understands that it is the best way for teammates to improve. He's becoming friends with the guys fighting for the same roster spots, but they rely on each other to learn and get better as they compete. And there are a lot of leaders and coaches to help those willing to put in the work.
"Dez Bryant is always willing to help you out, and Miles Austin is great, congratulating you but also pointing out where you can improve. Tony Romo, of course. There are a lot of leaders on this team helping out the young guys. It's all about helping your teammate out."
Tysson had a momentary pause and appreciative chuckle as he discussed leaders and mentioned Jon Kitna.
"He's always motivating you. He'll cheer you on even when you know you did something wrong, and he'll help you prove yourself, throwing you some great passes to go after and look good."
Obviously new to the system, Tysson is catching up to the language of the offense and the details and intricate play designs. He explained the biggest difference from college is learning the new, and longer, terminology, all the ins-and-outs of a play and the routes, and all the shifts and motions involved in a play. He is studying and training hard so that when his number is called and "you have 5-10 seconds to get it done" he'll be ready. He's working hard to improve every day. And by the sounds of it, he doesn't only have himself to help him get there. The Cowboys organization and the environment Garrett's creating is set up to have the entire team backing you up, helping reinforce lessons and teach the young guys battling to make the team. There is a feeling emanating from the Cowboys Training Camp, one built on learning, competing, improving and as we have heard Jason Garret say (and as Tysson explains Miles Austin often states) "Be(ing) confident in what you do." It strikes me after this interview that Tysson Poots not only understands this Cowboys culture, the long awaited return of "The Cowboy Way," but he was raised on it and would be a great addition to it.
I am sure Tysson's loving family and three siblings are wishing him the best and are already big fans, as are his friends in Iowa and from SUU...but he can now also count this Cowboys fan as a supporter. It was a pleasure speaking with him. He is smart, team-oriented, and hard working. I am not an NFL scout, and while his potential is still a little raw, Tysson seems to have the instincts and hands to play receiver, can make the physical grabs, and has a great approach to practice and the game. While a bit slow out of his breaks, he should have no problems improving his technique and becoming a better player under the tutelage of NFL coaches. If he doesn't make the Cowboys squad, keep an eye out for him; he seems like the right kind of guy for any NFL team, and I wish him the best as he fights to achieve "What everyone dreams about."
As a bonus: Here are some more words from Tysson Boots and some raving reviews from his coach. If you listen to them both, you will better understand the kind of player he is and the mentality Tysson brings to the game and his approach to football and his teammates.
College Football Performance Awards - Tysson Poots (via cfpamedia)