I’m from Walnut, a small town in southwest Iowa. Growing up, I played football on the playground, in the backyard, at family gatherings, in my parent’s basement, and anywhere else I could. My parents were always willing to shuttle me to Punt, Pass, & Kick events, summer camps, and any other organized events nearby. My mom has told me that she often took me to events in bigger towns so I could experience getting beat every now and then and build some humility in her young son. I often proved her wrong, but the experiences and life lessons those challenges brought equipped me for life. My dad would play catch with me in the yard and take me to games; he offered playing advice yet always, supported my coaches. Both of my parents attended nearly every game I played in through college.

I watched every game on TV I could growing up, and I loved rooting for my Chiefs. I didn’t play a down of organized football until 7th grade- also my first experience with pads. And, in Walnut, we played 8-man football as our school was 1 of the 6 charter schools to begin the class due to low enrollment. I was a unique two-way player in middle school: quarterback on offense- nose tackle on D.

In high school I was a freshman backup, sophomore lineman, junior team captain TE/DT, and an all-state senior leader of a #1 ranked team. My coaches used me however best helped the team, and I remember those Friday night games so much. I was a standout wrestler & baseball player, and I firmly believe every young athlete should participate in multiple sports through high school.

Coach FerentzESPN, & the U.S. Army All-American Game came calling in 2005, soafter the senior showcase in San Antonio, I headed to Iowa City in June, foregoing a promising senior baseball season at Walnut. I was quickly redshirted after a lingering back injury needed an operation, and spent much of the year rehabbing. I spent the next 3 years on the scout team, special teams, and the fringe of the 2-deeps at several different positions. I could never regain my best form after the injury, but I knew it was necessary that I continue to work hard, be a good teammate, keep good grades, and stay out of trouble. I knew how much life value was in this experience, even if it didn’t mean going to the NFL. One of my greatest honors was being awarded a Team Leader Award by Coach Ferentz and his staff for my work as a senior scout team player. I cherished my special teams opportunities and loved running on to that field with the Tigerhawk on my helmet.

After a brief stint in professional independent baseball, I got an opportunity to run some youth football programs in Iowa City during the fall of 2010. I really grew to enjoy teaching the game to impressionable young players using my personal experiences in football. Since 2010, I’ve worked to establish the RedZone Football Academy, a program for youth players in the Iowa City area. I serve as the state director and 1 of the program’s 3 head coaches for Team Iowa Football. Team Iowa has a select 6th, 7th, & 8th grade team that holds annual tryouts, competes in national tournaments, and hosts camps for the top young players in the state.

I serve as a board member and camp instructor for the Iowa Football Club, a non-profit group of former players that carries the Iowa Football legacy and gives back to the sport and the state in so many ways. I’ve held weekly camps and ran programs for various youth and junior football leagues across the state, and worked with local high school coaches, former NFL/NCAA playerssports medicine professionals, and parents to promote player development and safety.

I care about the way that I affect every player that I influence. My goal is to help young players whose shoes I once walk in, to chase the dreams that I once had. Please contact me if you’d like to know more about the programs I’m involved in, and ways you can give your son a great experience in his youth football days.

-Tyler Blum



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