His older brother Cody was in the exact same position Tyler currently finds himself in before eventually landing a spot with the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted rookie free agent.
“I’ve always looked up to him my whole entire life,” said Tyler, who signed with the Dolphins last week as a rookie free agent. “Just seeing him achieve his main goal and actually making it to the NFL, I couldn’t be more happy for him. It made it more realistic for me to actually chase my dream as well and try to make it to the NFL and everything like that. Seeing him do that really pushed me to even try even harder to actually get here.”
Having gone through the draft process himself a year ago, Cody was able to help Tyler this year in terms of preparation and also as far as telling him what to expect.
“He’s been a great help,” Tyler said. “He’s calming my nerves a lot, all through the draft. I had terrible anxiety and everything like that. He said, you know what, if you don’t get drafted, there’s always free agency. That’s what ended up happening. That’s how his path went and everything like that. He’s definitely helped me out. He’s given me ideas of what to expect and things like that. He’s literally made my head stay up and just be aware of everything that’s going to be coming and helping me taking it on head strong.”
Whereas Cody was a defensive lineman in college, Tyler ended up on the offensive line after making the most to offense during high school.
Tyler suggests the different choices came down to personality.
“I don’t know if it’s personality because he’s more of a go-get-’em type of guy and I’m more laid-back,” Tyler said. “I like to observe things and whatnot. I don’t know if it’s that. I happen to be a little bit bigger, I’m only an inch taller and I’ve got him by about 25, 30 pounds. That might be a big part of it, too, but it just so happens that he caught on to defense and I caught on to offense.”
Tyler Larsen more than caught on to offense, he thrived as an offensive lineman and became one of the best in the country.
While Cody played at FCS school Southern Utah, Tyler performed at FBS Utah State, the same school that produced Dolphins 2013 third-round pick
Tyler Larsen was nothing short of dominant at Utah State, earning first-team all-conference honors the last three seasons — twice in the WAC and once in the Mountain West after the Aggies switched conferences.
Larsen even earned second-team All-American honors from USA Today last year and was one of six finalists for the Rimington Trophy, given to the top center in college football. He then turned in an impressive performance at the Senior Bowl, where he was one of the rare interior offensive linemen who wasn’t dominated in practice by defensive tackle Aaron Donald, the eventual 13th overall selection in the 2014 draft.
Bottom line: Larsen’s credentials rivaled, if not surpassed, those of the 10 centers selected in this year’s draft.
“You always want to be drafted,” Larsen said. “That’s just a little bump in the road and I’m here right now. Coaches have said that everyone is a player on the team and that’s how I’m going to take my approach to this and I’m just going to give my all and I’m just happy to be here.”
Last year was great all around for Larsen, who got married to Utah State softball player Samantha Miller and then proceeded to start all 14 games in the fall, extending his career school record to 52 consecutive starts.
One of those 52 starts came against his brother, who is three years older but only one year ahead in his football career after a two-year church mission.
Utah State faced Southern Utah in the 2012 season opener, with Tyler leaving with a 34-3 victory.
“That was a really fun experience,” Tyler said. “I don’t think it will ever happen again. But I took the most out of it, my team won, so I’m happy with it.
“I would say I did (get the better of the individual matchup). I know he’s going to say that he did, so why not?”
As fate would have it, the Dolphins are scheduled to face the Baltimore Ravens during the 2014 season, but a head-to-head rematch isn’t likely to happen because Tyler says his brother, who spent his entire rookie season on the practice squad, is being moved to the offensive line.
So now it’s Tyler who’s helping his brother instead of the other way around.
“He’s calling me saying, hey, what is this?” Tyler said. “What do we do here? We’re both working together and helping each other out.”