BYRON, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — Byron senior lineman Tyler Elsbury is a special talent who’s doing big things and he seems destined to do more a higher levels. He’s in our sports connection spotlight.
He’s number 77 for the Tigers. His job at left offensive tackle is to move defenders out of the way and clear a path for his backfield teammates. He’s very, very good at it. Elsbury is 6-6 300 pounds. He’s always been bigger than his classmates going back to his days in junior tackle. His natural gifts combined with a strong work ethic make him a force on the field.
“He’s worked really hard in the weight room,” said Byron coach Jeff Boyer. “When he was sophomore he was still a big kid and hadn’t really developed that strength, but now as a senior you can just see all the work in the weight room kind of paying off for him.”
It was last year in a game at Genoa-Kingston when Elsbury made this eye-popping play. He blocked not one, not two, not three, but four defenders out of the way which allowed Drake Snodgrass to run for a touchdown.
Elsbury has kept up that type of performance up this year. Here’s a good example last Saturday in the playoff game against Rock Island Alleman. He fires off the line and drives defenders about ten yards down the field.
“My strength is my leg drive I guess,” said Elsbury. “I’m really good at keeping my feet moving and running through people and stuff. Also at recognizing backer blitzes and just communicating across to my teammates. I think that’s a good strength for me. What I need to work on is probably my first step. It needs to be more explosive or violent rather than just getting off the ball.”
Each week Elsbury and all the Byron linemen are graded on their level of execution on each play.
“It’s pretty easy,” said Boyer. “We give a plus or a minus. Then if they get a pancake they get a plus-plus, so when I go through and grade him he’s just like any other person. You either get the job done or you don’t. But there are a lot of plus-pluses that get written down on Tyler’s sheet.”
Stillman Valley football coach Mike Lalor has had to face Elsbury each of the last three years. Lalor has seen and coached a lot of outstanding offensive linemen over the years including his own Patrick Babcock who went on to be a starting offensive tackle with the Fighting Illini.
“There’s two things that really jump out to me about Tyler,” said Lalor. “Number one is that typically on offense the way he finishes plays you don’t see a lot of kids his size go to the whistle down after down and he does, and number two just his overall athleticism. I think you put those two things together that kind of effort and then the feet that he’s got, he’s got a real chance of going to the next level and playing real well.”
And Elsbury will go to the next level. He’ll be playing for the Iowa Hawkeyes. The coaching staff there has him pegged as a guard because of his athleticism and his great mobility.
Byron assistant coach Sean Considine is a former Iowa Hawkeye himself. He thinks Elsbury is an ideal fit for Iowa.
“He’s a perfect fit personality-wise, work ethic, his demeanor. The way he carries himself. The coaches out there know what they’re getting in Tyler. I couldn’t say any better things about the kid. He’s an Iowa kid. The pesonality is so important…the coachability, the work ethic, the leadership and all that type of stuff. Iowa does things the right way and those are the first things they look for above and beyond his ability to play on the football field.
Considine was around plenty of great linemen in college and in his eight years in the NFL. He knows what it takes to succeed at those levels.
“Tyler checks every box there is. I’m not saying he’s a sure-fire home run, no doubt going to go there and start and be an All-American at Iowa, but I think he’s about as sure of a bet as a quality football player coming out of this area that we’ve had in a long time.”
“There’s no doubt in my mind that Tyler is going to be just fine at the next level,” said Boyer. “He’s a mentally tough kid and there won’t be a challenge in front of him that he can’t face and be ready to go and overcome.”
Elsbury is the youngest of five Elsbury brothers. He grew up wrestling with them. Elsbury is an accomplished wrestler. He was a state runner-up last season at 285 pounds. He says wrestling has helped make him into the football player that he is today.
“I’d like to think it’s probably the biggest contribution to my success. A lot of people complement wrestling and stuff with football because of the pushing and pulling. You have to have quick feet. You have to be aggressive. I think it correlates strongly with football.”
Elsbury doesn’t just dominate on the offensive line for Byron. He’s doing the same thing on the defensive line.
“Defensively I think he’s turned himself into a great football player this year,” said Boyer. “That’s really something that we needed this year.”
“We challenged him to make that happen,” said Considine. “That’s the great thing about Tyler Elsbury is he always responds to coaching.”
Elsbury is an extremely nice guy. So does he have a ‘nasty’ sterak in him that he can tap into at the next level?
“Yea I have it in me. I try not to show it around when I’m out in public and stuff. I try to be the face of the community being the nice guy helping everyone out but once I step across those white lines I like to think I’m a different person.”
“He plays hard. You can call that nasty if you want to, but he knows how to finish blocks,” said Boyer. “That’s not him being a mean kid. That’s just him playing hard on the football field, but off the field he’s the nicest kid in the world. We have all the little kids here in Byron that look up to Tyler and think the world of him.”