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Mike Tyson: An Appreciation

The converted safety was a versatile contributor to UC’s defense in 2016.

Cincinnati v Purdue

The Career Numbers

  • 137 tackles
  • 7.5 tackles for loss
  • 7 interceptions
  • 11 passes defended

Mike Tyson was a four-star prospect coming out of high school and one of the more tantalizing secondary additions made by Tommy Tuberville during his tenure as head coach.

Tyson made an immediate impact as a freshman and stoked the flames of hype surrounding his talent. He played in nine games in 2013 and although he only had 18 total tackles and limited snap counts, he still collected two interceptions, a skill he had mastered in high school. After all, in his senior season at Lake Taylor High School in Virginia he grabbed eight interceptions.

However, it was not until his senior season this past year that Tyson really became the impact defender that he showed flashes of becoming as a freshman.

In his sophomore and junior years he played in 22 games combined and amassed all of 73 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and five passes defended. He did not collect an interception in those two years. While interceptions are largely a difficult statistic to predict, his work as a safety left a bit to be desired, even if he was a solid and reliable defender. Its just that he didn’t show the play-making ability we all knew lay beneath the surface.

In 2016, under an altered defensive system, Tyson took on a different role, as he moved from safety to slot linebacker. He would still get some time at his usual position, but in general, Tyson was playing up front and not in the secondary. However, the move helped create more opportunity for Tyson and sparked his senior revival. He set career-highs in tackles (46) and tackles for loss (4.5) in 2016, doing his part as a linebacker, but he gave the unit an incredible work in pass defense as well. He constantly made plays on the ball and kept errant passes from being caught. He led the team with five interceptions and also had five passes defended, tying with safety Zach Edwards for second on the team.

A position change and three years of development melded together and Tyson ended up being one of the most effective defenders on the entire defensive unit.

The Best of the Best

Oct. 19, 2013 vs. UConn

Tyson, who was playing in just his second collegiate game, recorded two assisted tackles, but the real highlight was an interception he returned 95 yards.

Oct. 4, 2014 vs. Memphis

UC was handed a rather difficult 41-14 loss by the Tigers, but Tyson did his part to avoid such a calamity, recording nine tackles (a career-high).

Sept. 19, 2015 at Miami-Ohio

After missing the first two games of the season, Tyson came through with a strong start to his junior campaign, recording three tackles and two passes defended in a 37-33 win.

Sept. 10, 2016 at Purdue

Oh poor Boilermakers. They had no idea what they were getting themselves into when they threw near Tyson. The Bearcats rolled to a 38-20 win over Purdue thanks to Tyson’s work in pass defense, as he snagged three interceptions.

Nov. 12, 2016 at UCF

The UC offense was dismal against the Knights, but Tyson found a way to match his career-high with nine tackles, including one for loss.

Nov. 25, 2016 at Tulsa

This may have been the best all-around game of Tyson’s carer as he got it done in all phases. He was a consistent stopper of players, recording eight tackles and he also halted a pair of drives with interceptions.

A Final Goodbye

It’s always unfortunate to see a senior go right when it appeared that they turned a corner. That’s the fate that Tyson has been dealt, as his senior season was far and away the best of his career. Still, in a pretty sorry season for the Bearcats as a whole, Tyson was a nice surprise. Hopefully the players who get the chance to replace him will be as aggressive and skilled at interrupting opposing passing attacks.