Oct. 1, 2012
Motivation from Tyler Drummer's mother, Jo, gave him the strength to take a chance on his childhood dream.
By Adam K. Moussa
At the Division 1 level of college football, it isn't uncommon to come across players with uniquely personalized stories of how they reached their gridiron destinations. What is atypical, however, is for an athlete to travel a path similar to that of redshirt junior Tyler Drummer.
After concluding his prep career under the guidance of Coach Matt Lowe at Powell High School in 2009, the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Drummer signed to play wide receiver at NAIA University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky.
|Since he was young, Drummer (pictured at age two) dreamt of playing football for Tennessee. Today, he is living out his dream as the Volunteers' starting holder.|
"I was born and raised here in East Tennessee, so growing up, my dream was always to play football at UT," said Drummer. "But, coming out of high school, I didn't have a lot of offers. So, I decided to go to Cumberlands with a couple of my Powell teammates."
"I met some great people and had some awesome times at UC, but I always felt like something was missing," said the Knoxville native. "I ended up coming home almost every weekend because I really missed my family, my friends and my hometown."
In May of 2010, Drummer's homesickness was amplified after receiving news that his mother, Jo, was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
"When my mom got sick, I got really scared, and I knew that it was time to come home for good. I knew that I needed to be there for my family, and that was the most important thing to me."
By the end of his freshman year, Drummer made the decision to drop his scholarship at Cumberlands and return home to Knoxville, to take, what would come to be, a blind leap of faith towards his childhood dream.
"I felt like I needed to focus on family, when I got back home, but my mom encouraged me to stick with football because she knows that's what makes me happy," said Drummer. "Throughout everything that she was going through, she was so supportive of me and she really gave the strength to chase my dreams."
"When I left Cumberlands, it wasn't guaranteed that I would be able to get on the team at UT. There were times when I wondered if I would ever play football again, but I just put all of my faith in God," Drummer said. "He set my path, and I knew that he brought me home for a purpose."
After walking-on and spending the last two years as a member of the Big Orange practice squad, this offseason, Drummer's ball skills began to shine in an often overlooked and underappreciated role on special teams.
Drummer holds for teammate
"Throughout the spring and summer, Tyler really emerged for us," said special teams coach Charlie Coiner. "He has good hands and he takes a lot of pride in his job. Tyler has really brought a lot of consistency, composure and commitment to our kicking game."
This season, the sure-handed Drummer has stepped in as the Vols' starting holder for field goal and extra point attempts -- a seemingly fitting assignment for a player who has been holding on to his Tennessee Football fantasy for as far back as he can remember.
"Every time that I step on the field, it gives me chills to know that I am living out a dream that I've had almost my entire life," said Drummer, who aspires to become a football coach following graduation. "It's so surreal, and I am just so blessed. Words really can't describe how much it means to me to wear the orange and white, and to see my family sitting in the stands watching me play at Neyland Stadium. This opportunity is truly once in a lifetime and I'm just trying to savor every moment of it."
"My mom always told me that if you live life with passion and persistence, and hold on to your dreams, you can make it anywhere that you want to go. Looking back, this crazy journey that I have traveled has absolutely proven that to me."