Senior linebacker Tyler Starr is on the road to continuing his football career professionally, and his official invitation to the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine should help keep his NFL dreams alive, Starr said.
The combine will be held in Indianapolis, Ind., Feb. 22-25, when over 300 top prospects will continue their journey to the NFL.
“It definitely opens another door and opportunity for me and benefits me in getting exposure from the NFL scouts because they’ll get to see my skill level,” Starr said.
Starr is currently on a six-day-per-week training schedule, training at D1 Sports in Nashville, Tenn. The workouts vary from weights to pool workouts and yoga.
“I get to the center at about 8 a.m. and have breakfast,” Starr said. “Then we have our first workout and then around 1 p.m. work on speed, and around 3 p.m. we work on specific drills for our positions.”
The linebacker from Little Rock, Iowa, set several records during his time at USD.
In 2013, Starr became the first Coyote to be named the Missouri Valley Football Conference Defensive Player of the Year. He finished the 2013 season with 71 tackles, one interception and led the team with nine sacks.
Head coach Joe Glenn said he truly admired Starr during his time coaching him.
“He is one of the best players to ever play here,” Glenn said. “To have a chance to watch him at practice every day and play every Saturday up close and personal was a really fortunate thing for me. He is a very special player.”
Not only did Starr’s talent show on the playing field but behind the scenes as well, Glenn said.
“I do not think I have ever coached anybody that tries harder every play and every rep, from individual work through group work through team work,” Glenn said. “He did not know anything other than giving 100 percent. His motor was running all of the time.”
Starr was the recipient of many awards and recognitions during his career at USD, including being named the Elite Defensive Player at the College Football Performance Awards and receiving an invitation to play in the East-West Shrine Bowl in 2013.
“At the Shrine game I worked with NFL coaches, which was eye-opening for me, from the level of knowledge they bring,” Starr said. “I learned a lot from them.”
In 2012, Starr, one of 14 Coyotes with at least 10 starts, was a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award and named second-team all-MVFC honoree.
This past season, Starr was awarded the Joe Salem Defensive Player of the Year for the second year in a row and was given the Henry Heider Most Valuable Player at the South Dakota Football Awards given out Feb. 9 at USD.
Associate head coach Wesley Beschorner recruited Starr to the Coyotes. He said he saw Starr as a special player from the start, adding that players are not normally given the ability, size and speed that he possesses.
“I think he became more of a complete man, looking at what he did and what he accomplished,” Beschorner said. “People looked up to him just by the way he worked and did things throughout his career. He really did not take a rep off, whether it was on the practice field or in the weight room. Anytime you have one of those kids and he’s your best player, I think there’s just a leadership quality already.”
Starr will continue his training until he leaves for the combine.
“I will enjoy the overall experience and am glad I made it there,” Starr said. “I will perform at the level I know I can and have been at D1 (Sports) and show the general managers and scouts that I can play at their level, and I’m prepared and show them I can be the higher draft pick.”
Linebackers are scheduled to workout Feb. 24. Some of the top linebackers Starr will be competing with include C.J. Mosley from Alabama, Chris Borland from Wisconsin and Christian Jones from Florida State.
Follow reporter Kelsey Kroger on Twitter @kkroger34