April 30, 2012

Tyson 'still spinning'

Two days after learning that the Baltimore Ravens had selected him in the seventh round of the NFL Draft, DeAngelo Tyson admitted Monday that his head was still spinning

It's been a wonderful daze.

In fact, to this day, the former Georgia defensive end still can't recall who he spoke to from the Ravens organization after his name was called.

"To be honest, I can't remember who I talked to," Tyson said by phone. "I talked to somebody from the organization, but I was just so excited that I got kind of emotional."

Considering where Tyson has come in his life - from his days of growing up in a home for boys to now being on the thresh-hold of an NFL career - it's no wonder.

"It's just a blessing," Tyson said before pausing. "I get to fulfill my dreams of playing in the NFL."

The road to the NFL has certainly been a bumpy one for the Statesboro native, whose Bulldog career came to an early end when he suffered an ankle injury against Georgia Tech on the game's second play.

Tyson would not suit up for the Bulldogs again, missing both the SEC Championship game against LSU and the Outback Bowl against Michigan State.

"I was concerned about the impact it might have on my pro aspirations, but I was more upset that it was my senior year, I couldn't play in the SEC Championship, I couldn't play in the bowl game," Tyson said. "That's what we worked for as a team and not being able to get on the field no matter the outcome was heartbreaking for me. I wish I could have been out there with my team."

Tyson's troubles didn't stop there.

At the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Tyson was not able to take part due to what he acknowledged was a heart issue (irregular heartbeat).

Fortunately, his condition is now controlled through medication, but it took a strong showing at Georgia's Pro Day in early March to show scouts that he was healthy and capable of being able to play.

"It (Pro Day) helped out a lot. I know I had a couple of mishaps at the Combine with the injuries and the heart issue," Tyson said. "So just to have the opportunity to go out and show who I am, that I am an athlete, that I can play any position and am a versatile player, was huge."

Tyson didn't disappoint.

Running against a wind that UGA officials said had gusts of 30 mph, Tyson posted an unofficial 40-time of 4.90, although he wasn't surprised by the news.

"No, not at all," said Tyson, who trained with Athletes Performance Institute in Gulf Breeze, Fla. "I've been working very hard. They've trained me well and taught me how to run. I set goals and was able to accomplish them."

Although he knows nothing is guaranteed to him as a seventh round pick, Tyson will have a chance to make the Ravens' squad.

Baltimore lost veteran defensive tackle Brandon McKinney to free agency, and Tyson will be given an opportunity to fill that role. Last year, McKinney didn't start but lined up in run defense next to Haloti Ngata and Terrence Cody in short-yardage situations.

"It's an exciting chapter in my life. Playing defense with those guys is going to be a honor, a bunch of veteran guys that I can learn from. It's going to be a great opportunity to learn from those guys. It's going to be awesome."

He won't be alone.

Former teammate Dannell Ellerbe is approaching his fourth year with the Ravens, who also signed tight end Bruce Figgins as an undrafted free agent.

"It's always cool to be around guys you feel comfortable with," Tyson said. "Obviously, Bruce was a teammate of mine and so was Dannell. It's going to be cool to have people there who you feel good being around."