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2021 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Tyler Crist, LB/FB, College of William & Mary

Tyler Crist
Tyler Crist is really a “Swiss Army Knife” at William & Mary being able to contribute in all facets of the game. He recently told his story to Draft Diamonds writer Jimmy Williams.
  • Name: Tyler Crist
  • Height: 6’0”
  • Weight: 245 lbs
  • Position: FB/LB
  • College: College of William & Mary
  • Twitter: @tcrist36

Tell us about your university/college. Did you participate in any other activities or campus organizations other than football?
My university is a very small, tight community with a strong alumni presence. Being at a small school gives me the opportunity to get to know everybody on campus. Other activities that I participated in were Classroom Champions. Classroom Champions is a mentorship program where college athletes get to interact and inspire kids in elementary and middle school. To be more specific, the program focused on schools where the student population was at 75% or more with free or reduced lunch. These schools typically didn’t have access to mentors or other amenities that some other schools would have so it was a great opportunity to let them know that someone cared about them.

What do your teammates say is your best quality?
Hard Work. I haven’t been handed much in life and I have had to work for everything I earned here at the college. 

What kind of role do you see yourself in on the team? What scheme and/or position suits your skill set?
Most of my coaches refer to me as a Swiss Army Knife. Even in high school, I was put in several positions on the field to help the team win, and I created a lot of success from that. I am currently the starting OLB at William and Mary, but for the past 3 seasons I was the starting Fullback. I really do not have a preference because I get to be extremely physical in either of those positions.

Who is the best player you have ever played against in college?
Rondell Carter (JMU). His quickness and size made him very difficult to block in both the run and pass game.

Which one of your teammates impresses you the most?
Bill Murray. He was a senior DL last year, and he has been one of the most athletic teammates I have played with. His speed for his size was something I had never seen before. Along with his strength and quickness, he is going to be a problem for his opponents in the NFL.

Describe a time in your life when you were able to overcome a struggle.
Being a walk-on was a massive struggle. I was under recruited in high school because I was playing a position that I wouldn’t necessarily play in college at my size.  It comes back to that “Do anything for the team” mentality. I was recruited to play inside LB, a position I had never played. To come in as a walk on and have to learn a new position, while on top of trying to earn a scholarship was definitely difficult. To add on to that, after the 3rd day of Fall Camp I was moved to play FB because their starting FB didn’t come back. I had to learn the entire offense within a couple of weeks after I spent the whole summer trying to learn the defense. Sitting on the sideline being redshirted my first year was a soul crusher because I wanted to come in right away and make an impact so I could earn some money for a scholarship. I didn’t want my mom and dad to have to pay for 4 years of college. I was able to prove my worth to the team in the spring, and I made a significant impact in the following year. With that, I was put on full scholarship in the summer of my redshirt freshman year.

Tyler Crist plays on both sides of the football.

If you didn’t play football, what other sport would you play?
My senior year I wrestled for the first time and I loved it. My best friend had wrestled for years and told me to join the team. I ended up making it to states. I would have tried to walk on somewhere as a wrestler at a smaller school.

What is something that you are most proud of? What would you say is your biggest achievement?
Being at the College of William and Mary, classes can be extremely difficult. College smacked me in the face my first two years, and my GPA suffered greatly. I made it my number one goal to graduate with a GPA above a 3.0 and this past semester. I finally surpassed that goal and it was one of the greatest feelings I had ever felt.

Check out NFL Draft Diamonds 2021 Small School Rankings

Describe one of the most memorable plays of your collegiate career.
Our 5th overtime game against Elon last year. This was the second game after me transitioning to OLB mid season. Our team was on a bit of a losing streak and this game was definitely a turning point in our season. It was 3rd down and we were in our first OT. I had a pretty good beat on the tackle all game but was coming up just short of the sack. We called a stunt with the DL and Bill Murray asked me what I wanted to do. I felt confident so I said I would just beat him off the edge. With the snap of the ball, I leaped off the edge, blew past the tackle and ended up sacking the QB. It was my first collegiate sack, and I went absolutely nuts afterwards. We ended up winning that game, and it set me on a bit of a hot streak throughout the rest of the season.

Do you have a favorite athlete or professional team? Is there a player that you model your game after?
I am a die hard Steelers fan. My favorite player and someone I emulate my game after would be Troy Polumalu. The Hall of Fame Safety was known for his aggressiveness and ability to be all over the field. No matter the play, he was always around the ball. That type of mentality can’t be taught and I try to emulate that as best I can. 

Who is your favorite music artist? What gets you pumped before a game?
My favorite music artist would be J Cole hands down. I’ve been a huge fan since freshman year of high school. However, I have a specific playlist that I listen to before every game that consists of Eminem, AC/DC, Kanye West, Meek Mill, & DMX. A wide variety but it definitely gets me in the mood.

What is your favorite comfort food?
I will never say no to a meat lover’s pizza. If pizza is on the menu at a restaurant, there’s a good chance that I will order it.

Do you have a favorite movie or actor?
My favorite actor would be Mark Walberg (AKA Marky Mark). However, I am a huge history fan so my favorite movie would be Hacksaw Ridge. The movie is about a medical soldier who saved countless lives on the battlefield without holding or firing a gun.

What do you do in your spare time? Do you have any hobbies? Any secret talents?
I love golf, pool and bowling. My grandfather grew up playing pool so since I was old enough to hold a stick I was playing pool. 

Who or what motivates you the most?
The thing that motivates me the most is I want to be remembered in some form or fashion. Whether that’s in football or my future career or anything. At the end of the day, nobody is going to remember what car you bought, what house you lived in, what clothes you wore. You will be remembered for your actions. I plan to make a difference and be known, and I won’t stop working until I feel I have achieved that. 

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