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Tyler Sash Article

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Tyler Sash Article

Post  Big_Pete on Tue Jun 14, 2011 10:19 pm

Tyler Sash Aims to Get Better at Craft
06/07/2011 | Author Pat Traina

Like most any other athlete, Giants rookie safety Tyler Sash is a strong believer in his natural abilities, work ethic, and preparation.

However, not everyone has shared his opinion about what he is capable of doing. And that, in part, is what motivates Sash, a promising young safety whose stock slipped all the way down to the sixth round of the 2011 NFL Draft.

Rather than dwell on the money he might have made had he been drafted higher, Sash has managed to keep everything in perspective as he prepares for his first NFL season.

“No matter where you get drafted, it’s still about production and how you play and prepare each week,” he said via phone. “If you don’t produce and are not doing what the coaches ask you to do, you’re not going to have a roster spot very long.”

There was a time in Sash’s life where if things didn’t go according to plan, he might have spent more energy wondering why rather than looking to fix things. However, thanks to some sage advice from his father, the youngster quickly came to realize that life is too short to waste on asking why.

Thus was born Sash’s budding merchandise line, #GBNB (Get Better, Not Bitter). That message has been at the core of Sash’s life in not just football, but everything he does.

“My dad used to wake me up in the morning before school and say, ‘It’s get better day, not get bitter day,’ “said the Oskaloosa, Iowa native of how the concept was first introduced to him.

“What he was saying is that there are things in your life – it doesn’t have to be in sports or football – that aren’t always going to go the way you want. If that happens, you can’t get upset; you have to work to make sure you correct what you can and get better.”

Although Sash understood what his father was preaching, it wasn’t really until his first year of college football until the message really hit home.

After earning a three-star prospect grade thanks to a high school career that saw him record 137 career tackles and eight interceptions – this despite also putting in time as a receiver and tailback in addition to his role on defense – Sash enrolled at the University of Iowa.

He redshirted in 2007, and then in 2008, he began the year as the third-string safety on the Hawkeyes’ depth chart, a position that disappointed him,

“I was a little bitter,” he admitted about his place on the depth chart. “I knew I had the ability to play and to be a starter, yet I was the third string.”

Rather than sulk, his father’s words ignited the fire within. Sash became determined to change the coaching staff’s opinions of him a player.

He succeeded.

“Going into the second week of the season, I tried to practice as hard as I could, like I do every week,” Sash said. “I ended up starting the second game of the season, and didn’t look back from there.”

Thus began a streak of 37 consecutive starts for the 23-year old, which saw him finish with 217 tackles and 13 career interceptions over a three-year career. Sash’s 13 picks ranked him fifth on the school’s all-time list, his 394 return yards off those 13 interceptions shattering a school career record while ranking fourth in the Big Ten Conference annals.

Sash’s ball hawking and run stopping abilities were just two of the numerous qualities the young man possessed that drew the attention of the Giants, who drafted him with the first of their two compensatory picks in the sixth round this past spring.

These days, Sash, who came out of school a year early because he felt the time was right and, “I felt like I made enough plays within our defense to go to the next level,” now finds himself stuck in a holding pattern thanks to the labor dispute between the league and the players.

By this time on the calendar, Sash would have completed the Giants’ annual three-day rookie mini camp that’s usually held in May an intensive three-day gathering that includes dual practices and a crash course in mastering the team’s playbook.

Sash, who is a student of the game, likely would have then gotten right to work in the team’s weight room shortly thereafter, where he would have been likely to encounter fellow safeties Kenny Phillips and Antrel Rolle, both of who he’s hoping will share their knowledge with him so he can learn the finer points of his craft.

And in the next week, he likely would have been busy getting ready to take part in the team’s annual mandatory mini camp, the last of the football activities before the players have some down time before the start of training camp.

The lockout, however, has shelved the off-season activities that coaches use to teach and evaluate players.

True to form, however, rather than get bitter over the missed opportunities, Sash has done everything he can to ensure he gets better.

For starters, he’s been working out daily. This week, Sash has also been in New Jersey to participate in the Giants’ team workouts that commenced earlier this week at Bergen Catholic High School.

“Right now you can pick up the basic stuff; you can’t really go into a lot of detail about it until you see different offensive formations,” he said about the benefits of taking part in the informal workouts.

“As soon as this lockout is over, I can’t wait to get into the film room and start studying.”

In the meantime, Sash has been carefully observing his new teammates who have attended the practices. He’s also been in touch with CB Terrell Thomas in hopes of getting as much information as he can so that when the time comes, his transition to the NFL is seamless.

“Just talking to the guys and seeing the way things are done, that’s going to be the bigger edge than having a playbook in my hands right now,” Sash said, choosing to look at the bright side. “I’m going to listen to the older guys. I’m a rookie and this is a new experience for me, and anything I can pick up, I’m going to soak it up like a sponge.”

When formalized football activities do resume, one of Sash’s primary objectives will be to improve every facet of his game so that whatever the coaches ask of him, he can deliver the desired results.

“I think I know what I need to work on and what I need to get better at,” he said. “Right now, I’m just pushing myself and trying to become the best and most prepared that I can be.”

And if he experiences bumps along the way, which are to be expected?

Get Better, Not Bitter.

“Sometime you’re going to get beat for a touchdown, but you can’t dwell on it,” he said. “You have to just get better. I think it’s a good positive, approach to things and it’s all about your attitude.”

In addition to becoming a contributing member of the Giants’ defense – Sash would appear to have a very good chance of competing for the third safety if veteran free agent Deon Grant does not re-sign with the team – the rookie is overseeing the evolution of the #GBNB concept into a non-profit foundation.

He said that once the still unnamed foundation is set up, one of its goals is to assist students who are in need of financial assistance for their education.

Sash, who has a Facebook page set up for the #GBNB Gear, said that pre-orders for the T-shirts and wristbands being offered have been strong. He also said that a web site is in the process of being unveiled soon that will offer the #GBNB Gear for sale.

In addition, he and his #GBNB team have set up a Twitter account, @GBNBgear that offers inspirational messages to its followers.

Sash, who is also on Twitter as @TSash, hopes that the #GBNB message inspires others who might be experiencing hardships to work their way through them, just as he has done throughout his life.

“My whole life I’ve kind of been the underdog at something,” he said. “I take those things as challenges and I’d like to go, if I can, to prove people wrong which leads to my motivation to stay hungry and to keep working.”
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