The Tyler Haycraft story isn’t one of luck. It’s a story of hard work and pure determination.
Tyler came to UofL from St.Xavier high school where he played both offensive and defensive line. He wasn’t recruited by Alabama, LSU, Ohio State or Note Dame. In fact, he was a walk-on at Louisville. He redshirted his freshman year (2015) due to a torn labrum. In the 2016 season he did not see any game action. In 2017 he appeared in 6 games either on the offensive line or special teams. In 2018 he made appearances in all 12 games, again on offensive line and/or special teams.
But in 2019, a coaching changed happened and coach Satterfield said the depth chart was a clean slate and that all positions were up for grabs.
Well, as the story goes, nobody outworked the former walk-on Tyler Haycraft (He earned a scholarship in 2018). Not only did he appear on the 2 deep depth chart, he was named starting right tackle for the season opener against Notre Dame. It was his first start of his college career. He had a great senior season and he won the Offensive Most Outstanding award at the Cardinals’ season end celebration.
Here is our interview…
CSZ – Every single person I talked to about you said that no one on the team works harder than you. Where did that work ethic come from? Underdog mentality? Parents?
TH – When I got to Louisville as a freshman, I quickly realized I was I didn’t have the exact skill set yet to be on the offensive line and being a walk-on I always had the mindset that as long as no one out works me I have to be noticed and so I always pushed myself to be the best in everything we did. Also I would say my dad pushed me by making me so competitive when I grew up. If it was shooting basketball, cooking the best dinner, or shooting bow and arrows we are always competing with each other and still do. As being the redshirt senior I had it planted in my mind I need to prove to these coaches that I can be the guy to start and they can know they will get everything I had. So I started from the day the coaches got there by being the first person to every drill and line arrangement and Coach Ledford said the roster is open to anyone and spots can fill up at anytime and be taken away so I did everything to make sure mine was safe.
CSZ – I know a lot of people found out that you were a starter on media day. I think a lot of us were surprised. When did you find out you would be a starter on opening day and what did that mean to you?
TH – I never really thought about being the starter but more so trying to keep my spot, media day was a surprise when they asked me to go talk. I thought It was nice to get my first real chance with the entire media.
CSZ – As if starting wasn’t enough, being named one of the team captains had to be an honor. Tell me what that meant to you and were you surprised?
TH – There were only four captains this year so it was a huge honor to be named captain. I was surprised when I was named captain and it was a proud moment.
CSZ – I don’t think most people know so tell us why are Tuesday practices are so hard?
TH – Tuesday practices are very hard and made that way for our conditioning and our first chance to install our game plan for that week. We needed to get the looks drilled in our heads for what we will see in the game. So Tuesday’s were the hardest mentally and physically trying too rep enough so you remember what everything looks like during the game.
CSZ – Coach Ledford… I know you smile when you hear his name. Did he come in here day 1 and challenge you to get better?
TH – I’d say I have a pretty good feeling when meeting someone how they are as a person and I Gravitated towards Ledford. He’s a great guy with so much knowledge about the game and really cares about you more as a person than a player. He pushed everyone from the first day about him bringing out the best in us and we do the same for him.
CSZ – What did the B.O.B.’s meetings at Ledford’s house do for the offensive line? What do I need to do to get some of those momma Ledford chocolate chip cookies?
TH – Having dinner at Ledford’s house means a lot. As a coach those guys don’t get to see their family a lot… especially during the season. And Thursdays were always an easier day when coaches would get done earlier than most days and he opened up his house and quality time with his wife and sons to also spend time with us. A great representation of what he stands for as a coach. It’s not easy feeding 12-15 guys and taking up his time from his family to be with us. As a group we always joked around and spent time with each other growing as friends and teammates. Mrs. Meredith is such a sweetheart and a blast to talk with. She can always bring up a story to about Coach Ledford that would have us laughing away. She also makes some delicious cookies.
CSZ – Do you have a most memorable moment on or off the field that you care to share?
TH – I’d say senior night was probably the most memorable out of them all. I loved walking out there with my fellow seniors one last time, to see my family at the 50 yard line, and play one last game in cardinal stadium. I also played one of my best games that night and was a great way to walk off that field with that last feeling.
CSZ – In your opinion, how lucky are the Louisville fans to have Scott Satterfield to lead the football program into the future?
TH – Louisville fans are extremely lucky to have Coach Satterfield for the future. A great coach and an even better person. He does everything he can for us as players and will be extremely successful.
CSZ – I asked Mason this too but did Vince ever ask you about attending the 2nd best high school in the state? Just kidding – I’m a Trinity grad.
TH – Vince never really asked about high school, he must’ve known we were the better school and didn’t want to bring it up.
CSZ – What are you plans for the future?
TH – Right now I am training for the NFL and I know it’s a long shot but I’m striving for that lifelong dream of playing in the NFL and the backup plan is kind of a toss up at the moment. I have an Exercise Science degree and exploring options available with that.
CSZ – Adonis Boone – How good is he going to be? I’m a big fan of his.
TH – Adonis Boone, he is going to be a monster if he keeps it up, he’s extremely talented. Very strong, good speed and has a great work ethic.
CSZ – What is like blocking for Hawkins? Do you lose sight of him in the crowd?
TH – I tell Hawk after every game “Thanks for making me look good out there!” I love blocking for Hawkins, he has such great speed and always seemed to make the right cut every time. He made me feel like I could never stop blocking because he’d make something happen every play. It was always fun chasing him into the endzone.
CSZ – Any regrets during your time here at UofL?
TH – No regrets really pop out, I loved being close to home, started as a walkon and ended as a starter, and made lifelong friends with my teammates and coaching staff.
CSZ – I assume you will make Louisville your home unless a job takes you elsewhere?
TH – As of now, Louisville is my home and where I do plan on staying but who knows what can happen.
CSZ – Would you like to leave one last message to all of Cardnation?
TH – I’d like to thank the fans of Cardnation… and with Louisville football and this coaching staff, they are just getting started, I cannot wait until this upcoming season to see what they bring.
Here is the link to Tyler and a few other Cards we interviewed during Football Media Day.
As Always, GO CARDS!