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June 24, 2013
Run-stoppers are the heart of any 3-4 base defense. By and large, the New England Patriots' defense goes as Vince Wilfork goes. For the Fresno State Bulldogs, head coach Tim DeRuyter's 3-4 base is no exception. At the heart of the Bulldogs' defense is the 'Rhino' himself, Tyeler Davison.
Tyeler is more of a rugged gladiator type of guy," said Nikko Motta, a fellow Bulldog defensive lineman. "We call him 'Rhino.' He's a rhino, you know what I mean? He's just mean."
Describing Davison's game as mean might be an understatement. Comparing him to a comic book character that constantly took on the Hulk and Spiderman? That's definitely a closer approximation of the devastation Davison caused opposing offensive lines last year.
A First-team All-Mountain West selection in 2012, Davison led the defensive line with 43 tackles. He also recorded 7.0 tackles-for-a-loss and three sacks. Additionally, Davison added three fumble recoveries, including a return for a touchdown, one forced fumble, a pass breakup, and a blocked PAT. 'Mean' describes the first couple of stats listed here. 'Downright nasty' would be the descriptor of choice for the other stat lines.
In an effort to build off of last season, Davison has been working harder than ever to prepare for the giant target that will be on the Bulldogs' back this season.
"Man, to be honest, I'm trying to do everything I can," Davison said of his preparations. "You know, we're out here working out with the coach, doing lifting and stuff. Running; running I feel is one of the main things. One of my goals for next season is to try and be in a really good shape. So, that I way I can go full speed on every play. I'm trying to place more of an emphasis on losing a few pounds and getting in better shape. Besides that, I feel like I'm doing everything I can to get strong, faster, in better shape; everything."
That doesn't mean Bulldog fans should expect Davison to be a set size on opening day. For Davison, being on the field as an every-down lineman is his top priority. He doesn't care as much about size as he does being able to produce on every, single down.
"You know, I don't know so much about the weight as a number," Davison said. "It's all about how I feel. So, if I feel I can go every play, be full speed, and weigh 350-pounds, then, shoot . . . But if I gotta be 290-to-295-pounds or something, then I guess that's what I'm gonna be."
Just like his teammates, Davison is focused on building off the success from 2012 and believes that the foundation for success is built off of leadership and team-building. Davison embraces the challenge of being leader and mentoring the younger players.
"We're really just trying to build off of what we did last year," Davison said. "You know, as far as getting all those takeaways, stopping the run, really, we just gotta build off of what we did last year. We have a year of experience with this defense under our belts now. Which, we know what we're doing, and now it will be easier for us to help the younger dudes. Whereas, before, we didn't even know it. So, we couldn't help the younger dudes because we were learning it ourselves. So, I think building off of last year - taking the next step forward by being veterans of the system, instead of newbies in the system."
Like most veteran players, Davison believes that there is always room to improve and that you should never be satisfied with the previous year's results.
"Well, I mean, shoot; everything," Davison said of areas where the defense could improve. "We always want to improve everything. Being more disruptive in the backfield - we can always improve on that. Being greedier on how many yards we give up. Whereas last year we might have been good if we got them for a 2-yard stop, this year we want a no-yard gain, you know what I'm saying? It's all in trying to improve upon what you did. Even if you already did well, you want to get better. I feel like that's how we feel as a defensive line. We might have done some things well last year, but we want to do everything better now."
Davison has applied that thinking to his own game. Hardly satisfied with his performance last season, Davison has set his goals even higher for this year.
"I obviously want to be First-team All-Mountain West again next year," Davison said. "And maybe All-American. So, we'll see. At the end of the day, all you can do is work your ass off and, I mean, win the game. That's all that matters at the end of the day; winning the games and working as hard as you can."
Working your ass off seems to be a constant theme for DeRuyter's Bulldogs. It shows in recruiting, it shows in practices, and it is reflected when his players speak about their approach to the game. Davison is no stranger to work and his 2012 results reflected that. Of course, what's a little work without play? Davison is just like everyone else when it comes to the new uniforms the Bulldogs will have in 2013.
"Hell yeah," Davison said when ask if he was excited for the new uniforms. "I mean, look good, feel good, play good. I think there's some truth to that. It will be nice getting some new uniforms and looking good out there. You know, make you play good and feel good too. I'm pumped to see the new uniforms; wear some all-black unis."
It was probably safe to assume that Davison is most excited for the new black uniforms, but we thought we would ask him anyhow. You know, just to be sure.
"All-blacks, duh," Davison said. "I like the all-blacks"
Davison already feels good and looks good. It's only a matter of time
Stay tuned to FSBulldogs.com for more updates on the Fresno State 2014 recruiting class.
Josh Webb is a special contributor to FSBulldogs.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @BulldogsTwist.
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