Defensive star started career as QBWritten by Scott Calhoun | | email@example.com
When awarded the opportunity to start last year, junior standout free safety Tyrrell Herbert wasted no time establishing himself as a Division I star on UT’s defense.
He finished second only to departed linebacker Anthony Jordan in tackles with 94 while instigating five fumbles playing in the formidable Rocket secondary.
Now Herbert finds himself deemed team-wide as the leader of the secondary, a distinction set forth with his status as one of the team captains.
His career grew from playing football with friends in the yard or on the street his raw to organized ball with a local youth team in his Pittsburgh-area neighborhood.
“I started out in football just watching it with my dad [Ray Herbert] and started rooting for the Cowboys. We would play out on the street and just got to loving it,” Herbert said.
His early experience in organized football was rough.
“When I was 6 years old we had an 0-11 season. Our age group had to play against 8 and 9-year-olds and we got crushed. It made me better though, and I kept going with it and keeping up with it week in and week out,” Herbert said.
He developed through junior high school and into his high school career as a quarterback, logging no time as a presence in any defensive backfield.
Then, during his 2001 sophomore year at renowned Pittsburgh-area Penn Hills High School, Herbert made an unforeseen transformation. He switched from his comfort zone at quarterback to free safety.
“I had to make a switch to somewhere else in the field because of Anthony Morelli,” Herbert said.
Morelli is the new junior starting quarterback for coach Joe Paterno and the Penn State Nittany Lions.
When Herbert was a sophomore for the Indians, classmate Morelli had stepped in to the program and made it known that he would be the young man at the snap, emerging as a nationally prolific four-year starter. Through his highly touted high school career, Morelli threw for 5,255 yards and 54 TDs and was named to USA Today’s Top 25 Supreme Team during his 2003 senior campaign.
Morelli’s talent served as a savior to Herbert’s career.
“It was a blessing. Definitely,” Herbert said.
He made plenty of noise in 2005.
“I knew all along I could get to this level, ever since I was little,” he said.