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2016 Russell Athletic Bowl

P L AY E R S P O T L I G H T : T Y L E R O R L O S K Y WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY If only Tyler Orlosky was on Twitter. West Virginia University’s senior center has more opinions than Donald Trump does at three in the morning, and like Trump, he’s willing to voice them anytime, anywhere. Orlosky is going to give you the unvarnished truth, often raw and straight from his brain, unfiltered. “I’ve always voiced my opinion,” he said Tuesday afternoon. “I should probably keep my mouth shut sometimes.” “He’s different,” teammate Daikiel Shorts Jr. added. “Me and him are pretty close and a lot of people don’t know that. We talk a lot. I call him my big bro. It’s definitely been a lot of fun playing with him – tough guy, and very cool off the field.” On the field, Orlosky can sometimes be a little bit of a wild card, which always makes practices and games so much more interesting for the players. The coaches? Well … “Yeah, you never know what he’s going to say,” Shorts Jr. laughed. “He thinks he’s the smartest person on Earth so that’s always funny.” Veteran offensive line coach Ron Crook has become somewhat of an expert in human psychology after dealing with Orlosky for five years. He’s had to – whether he’s wanted to or not. “(Crook) always gets mad at T.O. because T.O. thinks he knows everything and is always saying stuff,” Shorts chuckled. “He will say (using Crook’s husky voice), ‘ALRIGHT, ENOUGH T.O.!’ Then T.O. will always try to get in another little remark, and I always get a good laugh out of that.” “Anyone who is as brash as he can be is frustrating at times, but most of the time he’s coming off the field saying, ‘We need to do this’ because he sees it, he feels it and he wants us to have success,” Crook said, somewhat philosophically. “It’s not because he’s trying to second-guess anything or berate people. He feels like something can work – and usually he’s right.” People listen to what Orlosky has to say because he has a body of work to back it up. He’s played 48 games, making 40 starts, and he is an incredibly bright football player. Tyler understands and processes things much faster than your average player, which is what makes him one of the top centers in college football today. Ask the Mountaineer coaches to name Orlosky’s No. 1 attribute as a football player and “intelligence” is always the first word that comes out of their mouths. There are some players who make things happen and others who wonder what in the hell just happened. Orlosky definitely makes things happen; then, he tells everybody what just happened – or, more likely, what should have happened. “I talk to him like a coach. He’ll come over to the sidelines and he’ll tell you he hates me and I’ll tell you I hate him, but the truth of the matter is, we work together pretty dang good,” West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen joked. “We’ll be on the sidelines and he’ll say ‘I know!’ and I won’t even have to say it because he knows what’s coming out of my mouth. “Then he’ll say, ‘Will you quit running the counter, run the outside zone!’ And I’ll say, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, try blocking those guys – I call the plays and you block people.’ But what he says matters because he’s so experienced, he directs people and he knows how it’s supposed to look, and he’s a leader now.” “I think he probably says he hates me more than I hate him,” Orlosky chuckled. “I think he’s a good guy and our relationship is probably much different than most player-coach relationships across the country. He’s a guy that I will continue to keep in touch with throughout the rest of my life. Maybe one day I will get to work with him or for him and go from there.” Imagine that for a minute, Tyler Orlosky telling Dana Holgorsen to run more inside zone for the rest of his coaching career. I’m sure Dana will sign up for that one immediately. Even an old-school coach like Joe Wickline finds himself biting his lip more than usual these days during practices and games. Wickline comes from an era when the coaches always talked and the players always listened, but he’s sometimes had to tap into his inner Dr. Phil when dealing with Orlosky. 1 0 0 2 0 1 6 R U S S E L L AT H L E T I C B O W L “If you gauge his level of interest he’s pretty serious about what he does, how it applies and how effective he can be in what we do,” Wickline noted. “He will voice his opinion and that goes on in different areas and with different positions over the years. But anytime you’ve been somewhere for a long time and you kind of get the offense you start to dissect and understand how this applies and why we’re going this direction and why we’re protecting it this way – especially at that position. “He’s a special guy and he’s got his own personality and everybody understands where he’s at,” Wickline continued. “He gets it. He knows his role and he comes out and works – a lunch-box guy – and gets it done.” Orlosky’s willingness to work on the football field is really the secret to his success, and why the coaches give him freer rein than some others to say what he thinks. Orlosky readily admits that he hates watching film and will not watch any more than what is required of him, but yet when Tuesday comes around and the game plan is being presented to the team, Orlosky somehow, mysteriously, already has a pretty good idea what the plan is going to be. Then he goes out on the field and works his butt off. His teammates appreciate that, and his coaches appreciate that, too. “The thing about Tyler is regardless of the situation, what he’s going through, what his mood is … when he comes out and he’s in an angry mood because he’s been yelled at in meetings or in the weight room, he still has the ability to go out there and get his work done,” Crook said. “Even though he’s not always in a great frame of mind he still goes out there and works, gets guys around him working and that’s probably what is most special about him is you know what you’re going to get from him day in and day out,” Crook added. Orlosky said he appreciates the fact that the coaches give him the freedom to be who he is. Even in today’s game there are not many coaches out there who can handle players like him, or are sometimes willing to check their egos at the door. “What am I like?” Orlosky answered when asked to describe himself. “Do you want a few words or do you want me to go on and on? You can probably start off with smart (aleck) and some words I probably can’t say. I’ve always voiced my opinions since I was a little kid. My mom will probably tell you she wanted to hit me for some of the things I said, but my parents did a good job of raising me and allowing me to voice my opinions – and also to make sure that I understood there could be consequences if I do voice my opinion. I’ve learned from that. “I don’t know how I came to the point where I say what the hell I want to, but I do. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.” When it doesn’t work, the coaches are secure enough in themselves and their ability to handle it to be able to pivot pretty quickly and channel it into toward more productive areas. And when it does work, Orlosky brings a tremendous amount of insight to the table. He’s like having an 11th coach out there with what he sees on the field and can communicate to others. “A lot of times he’s trying to say the same thing I’m trying to say, but sometimes he’s just saying it differently,” Crook laughed. “Once we get through that, he usually sees things the way we do.” Crook and Wickline grudgingly admit there are times when they can concentrate on other aspects of the team’s offensive line play because they know Orlosky usually has his area under control. “I will say this, I trust him to get his work done during practice so if I’m working with the center, right guard and right tackle, if there is something I need to focus in on with the right guard and right tackle, I know he’s going to get his work done so I don’t get too concerned with him loafing, even though I’m not staring right at him for that rep,” Crook said. Wickline is more succinct. “Yes and no – yes I do and no, I wouldn’t tell him that,” he said. Having players on your football team like Tyler Orlosky is what makes the game so compelling, so interesting and so entertaining – not robots to be programmed to do as they are told. Tyler is going to ask questions even if he already knows the answers, just to make sure everyone knows their stuff and is always at the top of their game. That’s what wise guys do. And everyone within earshot is almost always much wiser because of it.


2016 Russell Athletic Bowl
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