Where Are They Now? - Q&A's With Notable Jenks Grads
Tyler Ott - Long Snapper for the Seattle Seahawks
Many have the dream, but few achieve it. Tyler Ott is living his. Educated first at Jenks and then at Harvard, the 2010 Jenks High School grad is now practicing the art of snapping a football in the NFL. After being signed and released multiple times, Ott may have finally found a home with the Seattle Seahawks. In his “Where Are They Now? Wednesday profile, Ott shares more about his journey to the pro level, memories of his time playing for Allan Trimble, and the requirements of his very specialized trade.
What are some of your favorite memories and moments from your time as a member of the Jenks football team?
Ott: My favorite memory of the football team is when we won the 2007 State Championship against Union 42-24. I will always remember the celebration that followed with my friends and teammates. Some of the other great memories were the team and position dinners each week of the season. Those meals were where you really got to bond with teammates outside of football. And, strangely enough, I will always remember the 6am summer workouts with my teammates - probably because that’s when we knew everyone had “bought into” the goal of winning a championship together.
How did playing for Coach Trimble, in a highly competitive program, help to prepare you for college, and ultimately, the NFL?
Ott: Playing for Coach Trimble made my transition to college seamless and easy. I was already mentally and physically prepared for the rigors of college football due to the program that Coach Trimble put in place. As for the NFL, the approach to “how to win” and what it takes to win was instilled in me from day one of playing for Coach Trimble. It’s a grind to make it to the NFL and I learned a long time ago that it takes time and a lot of effort to achieve your goals.
Why did you choose to attend Harvard and what led you to pursue a degree in economics?
Ott: My decision to attend Harvard was a no-brainer. When I was recruited for football, and most importantly, accepted by Harvard admissions, there was no chance I wasn’t going to attend the best college in the country. On top of academics, the Harvard Football team has a winning tradition similar to the success of Jenks that I was used to. I chose economics and environmental science & public policy because I had a real interest in the “green” or sustainable business world that is rapidly growing right now.
What kind of emotions were running through your mind when you signed with the New England Patriots as a free agent in 2014?
Ott: When I first signed with the Patriots, my only thought was: “I can’t believe this is happening!” It seemed like something you only hear about and never experience. I was excited and anxious to report to the Patriots and start working. I’m sure I was wide-eyed when I first walked in the building to meet Coach Belichick and my teammates.
What will you remember most about stepping onto an NFL field for the first time as a member of the New York Giants?
Ott: When I walked onto the field for my first game as a Giant I had been training for over two years. I tried to soak up as much as I could remember. But what I remember most is the sense of relief when the first play of my career was over and everything had gone well. Two years of training went into that one play. After that, the game was easy and I enjoyed every minute of it.
How have you been able to maintain your confidence throughout the cycle of signing, being released, and changing teams several times over the course of the last three years?
Ott: It’s definitely hard to stay positive when you keep getting picked up and released by different teams all over the country. But everywhere I went I kept being told “I’m an NFL player, it’s just bad timing, and it will happen.” I felt like I was getting closer and closer to sticking with one team for a long time. That still hasn’t happened for sure, but I feel like the Seahawks are the team.
At any point in the last couple of years, did you have a moment – meeting a high-profile player or coach, seeing your name on a locker, etc. – where you thought to yourself, ‘I can’t believe I made it here.’?
Ott: There have been a handful of “I can’t believe” moments in my career. The most recent and biggest one though would have to be walking into the Seahawks game day locker room for the wildcard playoff game against the Lions. That was my real “I made it moment.” There are a lot of players that never experience the playoffs, and I am lucky enough to be one that has.
How have you been able to make the most of your recent opportunity with the Seattle Seahawks, and what was it like to experience playoff football?
Ott: Being signed to the Seahawks for the playoffs was a huge opportunity to prove that I am not just a regular season caliber player, but a playoff caliber player. I think the fact that I came in on short notice and played as well as I did proves that I can make a long career of long snapping if I am given the opportunity.
You excel at a very specialized position. What exactly are NFL teams looking for in a long snapper?
Ott: NFL teams are looking for long snappers that can snap the ball accurately and consistently, be big and strong to block after snapping, and be athletic and quick enough to make tackles in punt coverage. There is also a big mental aspect of being able to handle the pressure of each snap - hopefully one day a Super Bowl winning field goal.
How long do you plan on pursuing the NFL dream?
Ott: I plan to keep pursuing my dream of playing in the NFL as long as possible. I want to play until my body say I’m too old to play. There will be plenty of time to work after football.
Once the football chapter is closed, what are your career goals?
Ott: I plan on going into private wealth management after football. But of course a lot could change in the future. People keep telling me to run for public office, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. Hopefully my football career pushes that decision back 10 or more years.
How often do you make it back home and how do you stay connected with Jenks?
Ott: I try to make it home as often as possible, but with football the past few years I have only been two or three times per year. When I am home I make an effort to see old teachers, coaches, and friends that I have stayed in touch with over the years. It is tough to make schedules line up, but I try to see as many people as I can.