Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Jeremiah Tyler, Bushnell Cup Winner

If you've only ever watched Jeremiah Tyler play football and have never had the chance to meet him, then you've only seen a part of what makes him so special.

When TigerBlog wrote a story about Tyler before the season began, he used the word "magnetic" to best describe the Princeton senior linebacker. It's a perfect description of him. 

He's magnetic, as in, those around him are just naturally drawn to him. As TB wrote earlier, you can see it when you watch others around him and when you talk to him yourself. When TB was talking about Tyler yesterday to someone, he described him as "another level guy," and when he was asked if he meant that as "NFL," he said "no, another level person."

That is not to say he's not a great football player. He most certainly is. He plays at another gear, a combination of size and speed with extra determination. The result has been one of Princeton's best-ever football players. 

Yesterday in New York City, Tyler took his place among those Princeton all-time greats when he won the 2021 Bushnell Cup as the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year. In doing so, he became the 12th Princeton Bushnell winner.

On the other side of the ball, E.J. Perry of Brown was the offensive winner. TigerBlog wrote about the unique situation with the two finalists yesterday, as he felt a really strong case could be made for Dartmouth's Derek Kyler, despite the fact that he wasn't a first-team All-Ivy pick.

While Tyler and Perry (there's a pun about the actor somewhere in there) were the men of the hour yesterday, TigerBlog does want to point out something about Princeton head coach Bob Surace. Tyler was the 12th Bushnell winner Princeton has had, and now seven of them have played for Surace. 

The Bushnell Cup has been awarded since 1970, and Surace has been the head coach since 2010. That means that Surace has been the head coach for basically 20 percent of the time the award has been given and has coached 58 percent of Princeton's winners. And yes, there have been two winners each year since 2011, but still, that's an incredible statement on Surace's ability to recruit and develop great players.

Oh, and Surace has had five other players who were Bushnell finalists (meaning one of two players to be in consideration) and not get selected. Hey, he's won four Ivy titles now in eight seasons, and you don't do that accidentally.

One of the finalists who did not win was Tyler two years ago. In fact, both Perry and Tyler were finalists in 2019. If TB is looking at the list correctly, they're the first two players to be runner-up and then come back and win the award later, though there were two players - Dartmouth running back Nick Schwieger and Cornell quarterback Jeff Matthews - who won one year and then were subsequently runner up another year. 

Another interesting fact, at least to TigerBlog, is that Princeton has only ever had two Ivy League Rookies of the Year, an award that began in 1981. Who were they? Usually TB gives you a few paragraphs to figure it out, but instead he'll just tell you: Doug Butler (1983) and Chuck Dibilio (2011). 

Of course, that's all about history. In the present, it's a moment to salute Jeremiah Tyler.

His numbers are impressive (a team-high 58 tackles, with seven for loss, as well as two sacks, a fumble recovery for a TD and six pass breakups), but they hardly define him.

Here's what does: winning.

Princeton was 35-5 in his four seasons, winning three Ivy League championships. That's what Tyler's ultimate Princeton football legacy will be, winning.

Oh, and doing so with a personality that brought out the best in everyone around him, on the field and off.

He's the ultimate team player, but even the greatest of team players is still entitled to an individual moment in the sun. So congratulations to Jeremiah Tyler, on the Bushnell Cup.

Like everything else he has accomplished here, it's very well-earned.

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