By Gabriel Stovall
ATLANTA, Ga. — Georgia Tech’s 13-7 loss to Georgia Saturday marked the end of disappointing season for the Yellow Jackets. But it also brought to a close the football playing career of senior safety and Eagle’s Landing High alum Tyler Teknipp.
Teknipp is the son of coach Joe Teknipp who coached at Eagle’s Landing for seven years before succumbing to cancer in July. Here in our Q&A with the soon-to-be Tech grad — he’ll graduate December 12 with a bachelor’s degree in history technology and sociology — Tyler talks about his feelings on Senior Day, pushing through a tough, underachieving season and his plans post graduation.
SCBuzz: How would you summarize your experience at Georgia Tech?
TEKNIPP: “It was just a great experience. It was just four years of a bunch of coaches that knew what they were doing. It was great guidance. Amazing fans, teammates, brothers and not just teammates. I mean, wow. It was just a great opportunity for me to be a part of something so great and so big. It’s just an unbelievable experience to be apart of that here at Tech.”
SCBuzz: What was going through your mind and your senses while standing out there at Bobby Dodd for the last time during the Senior Day ceremony?
TEKNIPP: “I just told myself, ‘Make sure you’re looking around and taking it all in. All the sights, sounds and smells. Just all of it.’ I wanted to enjoy everything that was going on and being there with everybody. Of course one other person I wanted to be there there that wasn’t there in person. But I’m sure he was there in some way shape or form. Until the outcome of the game, it was just a great experience. If we could’ve changed the out come a little it would’ve been perfect.”
SCBuzz: You alluded to it just now. Obviously four years ago you probably didn’t envision this day happening without your dad. Did you have to work through some tough moments Saturday?
TEKNIPP: “Yeah there were a couple. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it could’ve been. I guess it really hasn’t sunk in yet that I am officially done playing football and everything like that. It’ll probably take a week to set in. I had a couple of tough moments though, just thinking, ‘Man he should be here with me.’ But I guess that’s kind of how I think with everything now.”
SCBuzz: If you had to pick a highlight or two from your four years here, what would it be?
TEKNIPP: “Oh, a lot of those. Hard to come up with just one. I probably have a top five. I’d say it starts with the three Games I got to play in. The first time I got to play in at Bobby Dodd Stadium against Elon during my redshirt fresh year. Then against Alabama A&M that same year, and then this year against Alcorn State for a little bit. Then I’d say getting to travel to places like Duke and Pittsburgh. Those were great experiences.
I mean, wow. It’s just so many. I guess all of the memories I have with all the guys I basically grew up with playing football. I’ll never forget that, and I’m sure we’ll all stay real close and stay in touch and everything. I think one of the most best memories, though, would have to be that win we had against Georgia in Athens and then the Orange Bowl down in Miami against Mississippi State. Those were just great, great times.”
SCBuzz: What do you think happened this year to make things so different from last year from a wins and losses perspective, and did it do anything to damper your experiences here?
TEKNIPP: No it definitely doesn’t. Really what happened was we just had a lot of injuries, lost a lot of amazing players. It’s hard to replace your guys every year, but especially last year when we had all this NFL talent on that team a season ago. This year we just had a bunch of freshman playing. I mean there were times where seven or eight freshman were playing at a time in games.
“We were still close in a lot of those games to the point where they could’ve went one way or another, and unfortunately it went the other way more often than not. It definitely was not for a lack of effort. We practiced and played our butts off, but every game it was like one play here, or one play there that we just couldn’t make.Just gotta make. But I think they’ll be back next year with healthy guys, and have another year like we had last year.”
SCBuzz: What’s next for you, now that your college playing days are done? Is coaching in your future?
TEKNIPP: “Oh definitely. I’ve known that I’ve wanted to coach football since I was nine years old, growing up and watching my dad. He worked with and interacted with so many great coaches in Ohio and in Georgia too — too many to name them all. And I’ve been able to encounter that and see how they do things.
“For a while I was going back and forth on whether I wanted to go into the college ranks and get a graduate assistant spot somewhere, or start in high school. Ultimately I decided I wanted to get my foot in the door in high school in teaching and coaching. I just decided that I could make a bigger impact in kids’ lives in coaching high school than college. In college you’ve got more hand picked kids and it’s kind of hard sometimes to maybe make that impact. But in high school you have a real chance to make a change in a kid’s life and help them really fulfill their potential.”
SCBuzz: Would you like to be able to start that coaching career at Eagle’s Landing?
TEKNIPP: “If an opportunity came open and I was given the opportunity, I’d love to go back to my alma mater and do great things there. But it all depends on where I can get my foot in the door and work way up from there.”
SCBuzz: Do you feel like being around your dad played a great role in your desire to coach high school ball?
TEKNIPP: “I definitely do. Just being around it and him my entire life. That just completely influenced me. Just getting to see how much how involved you are in kids’ lives, how much you mean to them. It’s just such a big impact it you can have to show your support and show these guys that you care about them and want to see them at their best on and off the field.”