Although they didn’t hear their name called over the weekend, undrafted rookies share the same dream as drafted players — to make an NFL roster. As mentioned last week, my UDFA series is back for the third season at The Falcoholic. I started the UDFA Q&A series as way for fans to get to know the often overlooked rookies who are looking to make the roster in Atlanta. Two players from last seasons’ series are still on the team’s roster: offensive lineman Ryan Neuzil and running back Caleb Huntley. Earlier this week, we spoke with offensive lineman Tyler Witt, who will be at Falcons’ rookie minicamp in hopes of being signed by the team.
Today, we will be speaking with wide receiver Tyshaun James out of Central Connecticut State. James fits the current mold of wide receivers in Atlanta, as he measures in at 6’3, 210lbs with a wingspan of 77 1⁄2 and plus athleticism. Let’s get to know him better, shall we?
How would you overall describe your time at Central Connecticut State?
I’m a very humble person, and I always try to be like that because my mom says “God is giving, God can take” so that advice will always be with me. But personally, now that it’s all over with, I feel like I was one of the best football players to ever play there. Just because I finished top-5 in every category and we won two championships so, I had a pretty good career there.
Did you have a favorite NFL player growing up? Who do you model your game after?
Growing up, I was a Cam Newton fan. He was my favorite player, because in high school I played quarterback and wore No. 1. Larry Fitzgerald also, now that I’m a receiver.
I try to watch a lot, because I’ve only been playing receiver for three years now. So, I try to pick up as much as I can from guys. I watch some Devante Adams, Mike Evans, Mike Williams, Julio Jones, Keenan Allen — I like watching the taller guys, I watch most of their film. I try to take some stuff from each of those guys.
Did you receiver any other offers? What made you decide on joining the Falcons?
I think that I received like 6-7 total offers. I knew because I was getting calls from my agent during the draft and was hearing that I’ll have a couple of places where I can go. But, the Falcons was the place I really, really wanted to go. It felt like it was the best fit for me as a whole. Around this time last year, in April, I was training out in Atlanta and saw how everything was down there. That was it for me, there’s just something about Atlanta that I really like.
What interests do you have outside of football?
Honestly, just hanging around with family. 97% of the time, I’m with family. The other 3% is spent on the football field, at the gym or doing recovery stuff. I’m just big on family, like we all hangout every weekend. We always cook on the grill or watch games and stuff. That’s really it for me, just spending time with family.
How excited are you for rookie mini camp?
I’m so excited. Honestly, it hasn’t really hit me yet but I’m very excited to get out there and play football. If I was in college right now, I’d be doing spring ball so I haven’t played football in a while, aside from practice stuff on the field. I’m just excited to get a helmet on and prove myself all over again, honestly.
What motivation did you have to make it to the NFL?
Definitely my family, but most importantly, doing it for myself and showing myself that I’m capable. I feel that if you try to do everything for others, and you’re not worried about yourself a little bit, at the end of the day it can all fall apart. I’m very, very competitive and I hear a lot of stuff that’s been said about what I can and can’t do, from high school all the way up to college and now. I just always want to prove myself right and pray over stuff.
So yes, family is definitely a big part of it but also for my town. Ever since they heard I got signed by the Falcons, I’ve been getting so much love. I just want to be a great example and especially for the younger kids there, that anything is possible.
What are the Falcons getting in Tyshaun James?
They’re getting a versatile player. Someone that’s going to work very hard. Like I said, I’ve only been playing receiver for three years and people will say “You’re very talented” — which is true, but a lot of it is really just hard work, especially changing from quarterback to receiver. They’re getting someone who is going to be professional, I know that this is my job and that’s how I view it. You’re not going to have to worry about off-the-field issues with me. I’m always going to keep my head down and do what I have to do for the team, no matter what it is.
My biggest takeaway from my conversation with Tyshaun James is his confidence. He’s had success, such as setting the school-record for receiving touchdowns and being a two-time First Team All-Northeast Conference selection. But his confidence seems to come from something deeper. As mentioned, he’s playing for his family, himself and his town and I think that’s motivation which will carry throughout his time in the NFL.
Coming from a smaller school in Central Connecticut State, James stood out enough to draw the attention of the NFL. The 6’3 receiver capped off the 2021 season with 45 catches for 674 yards, and 8 total touchdowns.
“Strong runner with the ball with enough agility to make defenders miss in the open field. He is quicker than fast and lacks elite wheels to simply blow by defenders, but he has good football speed. He catches the ball with his large, soft hands and is tough. Deceptive jets and a smooth route runner.”
I’m excited to see what James does when the Falcons host their rookie mini camp in a few weeks. James has the ideal size for a wide receiver, and when you look at the recent talent they’ve added, head coach Arthur Smith seems keen on players who have James’ size, ability, and passion for the game. We wish him luck as he competes in mini camp.