For most of his life so far, the sounds of the fall for Tyshaun James have been whistles, quarterback cadences and the roar of fans cheering as he stepped onto the football field. This fall, these staples of football have been replaced with the sound of crunching leaves and the sights of Connecticut’s state parks.
Just like the rest of us, James has had a lot of new found free time thanks to the pandemic. Some have learned to knit, others have watched seasons of shows in the span of days. James has chosen to get outside during the pandemic.
“In the summertime with the pandemic going on, I just started going hiking,” James said. With his basement at home turning into his offseason weight room, James and three of his friends hit the weights in the morning, then traveled to a different hiking spot almost everyday, snapping pictures along the way. He visited too many to recall a favorite, but still remembers a particularly eventful hike near Quinnipiac.
“It was supposed to be an hour long hike and we turned it into about four hours after we walked off the trail,” James said. “Luckily it didn’t get dark or else we would have been out there all night.”
On the football field, the last word you could describe James as is lost. He tore apart opposing teams’ secondaries, leading the Northeast Conference with 14 touchdowns and flat out dominating in just about every other stat you can count. So I had one question for him:
Why are you so good?
For James, the simply stated question has a much more complex answer.
“Self discipline plays a part,” James said. Growing up, James said his parents instilled that in him; if he wanted to be good, he had to do it for himself.
“My dad told me if you want to be good, you have to work out. As soon as he told me that I just started working out and taking things way more seriously.”
James also credited his support system for keeping him motivated.
“My mom, my dad, my sister, they definitely drive me to be a better person, because my parents worked so hard for what they have. My sister’s always doing what she had to do in school,” James said. “Having a supporting staff like that around me, I don’t ever want to let them down or fail because they’re always doing what they have to do in life.”
James’ position on the depth chart is listed as wide receiver, but the former Middletown High School quarterback has yet to show any limits as to what he can do for an offense.
“I call myself like an athlete more than just a receiver,” James said.
James’ track record speaks for itself, though no one can sum it up better than the man himself.
“I feel like that’s what separates me from lot of other guys,” James said. “I’m not just a one dimensional person, I’ve ran in a touchdown, I’ve caught a touchdown and thrown a pass in a game already.”
Like his head coach Ryan McCarthy, James sees the cancelling of the season as more beneficial than making one up in the spring.
“Having this type of year I get to really take my time and learn new stuff and really hone in on the things that I’m not so good at because you can always get better at stuff like that,” James said.
James had shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum at the end of last season. Now fully healed, James is focusing on sharpening his skills to get ready for a regular looking season next fall, a statement certainly scary for NEC defensive backs.
“Hopefully that just stays strong how it is now. I’ve been fully healed, working out and practicing and stuff like that,” James said. “So hopefully that stays good and goes on from there and I just become a great leader on and off the field to my teammates.”
Heading into his senior year, James sees himself as the “old guy” on the team. Being a good leader has never been more pertinent to him.
There is no question that James will be a name seen at the top of CCSU football’s record books for a long time to come. For James, of course, these records mean little to the end goal: winning.
“I honestly don’t know any of the accolades [at Central] I’m not even sure where to find them,” James said with a laugh. “I just go out there and play. I want to score as much as I can but I also want to win another championship. I always told my family and myself I want to be the best player to ever play at Central.”