“One of my children is living their dream. How often does one of your children get to live their dream?,” stated Mike Donahue, Silver Creek High School head football coach and father of Tyler Donahue.
Tyler is now in St. Louis capturing his dream of a career in the National Football League. He signed a three year contract with the Rams. He arrived in St. Louis on Tuesday evening and is now working to make his dream a reality.
Coach Donahue has been an integral part of Tyler’s love and passion for the game of football.
Tyler began playing football in the third grade with flag football in New Carlisle where Coach Donahue led him as the head coach. Tyler played one year of middle school football in South Bend before the Donahue family moved to Naperville, Illinois. Tyler continued his football career at Naperville Junior High School and Naperville Central High School.
“I was his only coach until he was in junior high,” stated Coach Donahue. “Then I was an assistant coach his eighth grade year.”
Tyler worked hard to make an impact at the high school level. Naperville Central High School has 3,400 students with 400 players on the football team from freshmen to seniors.
“There is a freshman team, sophomore team and then a varsity team. No freshmen or sophomores play on the varsity team,” Coach Donahue explained. “He (Tyler) started on the A team at left tackle. He then started and played every game as a junior and senior at left tackle.”
Tyler, a 2006 graduate of Naperville Central High School, knew he was working hard for his overall dream of playing in the NFL. His hard work also paid off at the high school level as he was named All Conference as a senior in the Du Page Valley Conference. He was also named by Mike Ditka as one of the 100 Top High School Players as a senior at Naperville Central.
According to Coach Donahue, Tyler was recruited by several top notch Division I colleges to extend his football career.
He was recruited by Indiana University, Wisconsin, Western Michigan and Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio.
Coach Donahue believes it is highly important to attend the recruitment camps when being recruited at the college level.
“I tell the kids now (at Silver Creek), go to that one day camp. It is important,” Coach Donahue stated.
Coach Donahue and his wife, Kari attended the recruitment camp at Bowling Green State with Tyler.
Tyler made an impression on the staff of Bowling Green State and Western Michigan as both teams made him an offer to advance his football career and receive a college education.
“Of the 70 players at the camp at Western Michigan, he was the only one offered. And Bowling Green offered,” Coach Donahue recalled.
Tyler along with his parents, then had a very important decision to make, but not before taking in a game to check out the atmosphere of college football.
Coach Donahue and Tyler attended a Bowling Green State University game in the fall. Coach Donahue had made plans to purchase the small replica helmet of the college his son chose to play. Leaving Bowling Green State that day, Coach Donahue had made his purchase.
“It was halftime and I asked him if he was going to commit,” Coach Donahue recalled. “He kinda hit me in the ribs and told me to go buy the helmet.”
Tyler has always been one who keeps his work out routine on schedule and pushes himself to be the best.
“When he would come home, I knew we would be at the high school. I never had to tell him he was always telling me, ok, it’s time,” Coach Donahue said.
In Tyler’s senior year at Bowling Green State he started the season as the starter in the right tackle position before being moved to the left tackle position. He started the last 25 games for the Falcons of Bowling Green State.
Tyler was named to the Phil Steele’s All-MAC fourth-team as a senior for the Falcons.
After graduating from Bowling Green State University, Tyler originally wasn’t concerned with acquiring an agent for the NFL. But, according to Coach Donahue, then the phone calls started.
Tyler decided to opt for an agent at the recommendation of Bowling Green State University head football coach Dave Clawson.
Clawson made a phone call on behalf of Tyler to the general manager of the Rams to find an agent that would take care of the former Falcon. Tyler is now being represented by an agent with the National Sports Agency in St. Louis.
Tyler attended his Pro Day on March 15 and made a lasting impression.
“He was off-the-wall at his Pro Day,” Coach Donahue explained as he went on to give the exact details a proud father, with a passion for football, would have memorized about his son’s abilities.
According to Coach Donahue, Tyler was projected to go in the sixth or seventh round of the NFL Draft.
“This year was a highly defensive draft. Tyler received a phone call in the first round telling him they were trying to get him drafted but it was ultimately the head coach’s decision,” Coach Donahue stated. “The draft was a little disappointing but then with the lock out they were not able to have any negotiations.”
The 136 day NFL Lockout had many local residents checking weekly or even daily what was the latest news coming from the NFL and Players Association. The Donahues were no different.
“As soon as the lockout was lifted conversations began,” Coach Donahue added.
Several NFL teams were interested in Tyler including the Jets, Saints, Ravens, Dolphins, Colts, Falcons and the St. Louis Rams.
Tyler’s dream was getting a little closer and last Monday as Coach Donahue and Kari were walking into Walmart, his cell phone rang. On the other end was Tyler with concerns about one of the biggest decisions he had ever made.
“My wife and I were walking into Walmart and my phone rings. It’s Tyler, ‘Dad I have two major offers and my agent is telling me I have 10 minutes to make a decision’,” Coach Donahue recalled. “I talked to Tyler and the decision was made. The Rams had the best deal. This year the Rams drafted no offensive linemen.”
Tyler made the decision to sign a contract with the St. Louis Rams.
Coach Donahue continued, “Then we were sitting at home watching DIRECTV and the phone rings. The caller ID showed St. Louis Rams. It was Steve Loney trying to get a hold of Tyler.”
Tyler has been in St. Louis since Tuesday evening. Although he had a longer than normal delay, due to the lockout, from graduating at Bowling Green State and signing a contract with the Rams, Tyler has kept his strict work out plan on track.
“Bowling Green has continued to allow him to use their facilities. They have been really good about that,” Coach Donahue said.
Once Tyler arrived in St. Louis his path to making his dream a reality quickly began.
On Wednesday morning, July 27, Tyler’s day began at 7:30 a.m. when he was picked up and taken to the training facility.
“He spent the day with the offensive line coach. He was given the playbook and told if they lost the playbook, there was a $10,000 fine,” Coach Donahue stated. “He was also given his equipment and assigned No. 62.” The Rams have since changed Tyler's jersey number to 71.
Thursday morning, July 28, Tyler’s day also began at 7:30. Thursday Tyler spent with the position coach. Tyler has signed to be an offensive tackle and is practicing as a right offensive tackle for the Rams. He also has practiced at the center position during his football career.
The St. Louis Rams’ pre-season schedule has two home games the Donahues plan on attending. The first is August 13 when the Rams will host the Indianapolis Colts and then August 21 when the Rams play host to the Tennessee Titans.
“I hope to see him play some in those games,” Coach Donahue said. “I will be able to look down on the sidelines and find No. 62 and see his name on the back of the jersey.”
According to Coach Donahue, Tyler is ready for the new challenge with the St. Louis Rams.
“He is very comfortable with it. He said the playbook reminds him of Bowling Green’s and that he just has to learn the terminology,” Coach Donahue stated about Tyler.
He continued, “Tyler is very fast and learns quickly. He is one of the strongest in Bowling Green State’s history. In the hip press, it is where you push the weight away from you, he did 1,100 pounds five times.”
Tyler is one of four Donahue children. He will have a great support system with friends and family as he prepares for his new challenge. Coach Donahue and Kari have four children: Andrea Brazzille, Cassi Donahue, Tyler and Mitch Donahue. Andrea and her husband Cliff have one daughter, Kaydence. Cassi resides in LaPorte, Indiana and currently works for Walmart. She just received her degree in Criminal Justice. Mitch is a graduate of Silver Creek High School where he played the lead in the popular play Beauty and the Beast. He now is a sophomore at Indiana University Southeast where he is majoring in theatre.
Coach Donahue is now preparing for the first varsity football season at Silver Creek High School since 1942. Tyler will be a big inspiration for the Dragons.
“I just want my shot. Just give me a chance,” Coach Donahue quoted Tyler as saying on several occasions. Tyler has been given his chance in the NFL and his dad will lead the Varsity Dragons’ charge in the Mid Southern Conference as they take their chance to make things happen on the grid iron for the first time since 1942.