On December 3rd, the Ottawa Redblacks who did not have a head coach at the time brought in 13 players to play in Ottawa for 2020. One of the 13 players was James Tyrrell, a Canadian wide receiver from Concordia University.
James Tyrrell, the Dorval, Quebec native stayed close to home for University at Concordia but, for high-school ball, Tyrrell was off to boarding school in New Hampshire at Holderness Prep School.
Attending a prep school away from home helped Tyrrell get ready for his post-secondary schooling at Concordia where he would make a name for himself. The Dorval native studied Finances at Concordia but that’s not where he was known for.
The Ottawa Redblacks didn’t bring in Tyrrell because he knew about finances, it was because he was a baller on the field at Concordia. James Tyrrell was a 6 foot, 188 pound receiver and was real close of bringing the Stingers to the top of Canadian Schools.
In the 5 years he played at Concordia, James Tyrrell’s final year had to be the best he’s ever played. Tyrrell played 8 games plus the playoff game and tallied 61 catches for 903 yards, averaging nearly 15 yards a catch he recorded. Not only did the numbers impress the Redblacks into signing him, but he was also named one of the top players in the nation this past season. With the numbers he put up, Tyrrell was put into the mix as the first team all-canadian receiver among both Tyler Ternowski and Jalen Philpot. With the fifth year that Tyrrell put into work at Concordia, the Redblacks didn’t have to draft him therefore he was signed as an undrafted free-agent and could be a steal for the organization.
Just weeks following his signing to Ottawa, I was fortunate to be able to reach out to James and set up an interview.
One on one with James Tyrrell
Zlomislic: Just a few weeks ago, you were signed by the CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks, what is it like to call yourself a professional athlete?
Tyrrell: “For the longest time and even now I don’t know how to explain it. I don’t think its quite sunken in yet and it hasn’t clicked that I’m a professional athlete or football player. Its one of those things that has always been on the back of my mind, but now to have that title its so surreal and I’m happy for whats next.
Zlomislic: What was your reaction like to this contract?
Tyrrell: “It was a huge relief at first. This past year I put in so much work and to see it payoff and receive this contract it was relieving to get the opportunity, but now its time to do more work when I’m in Ottawa.”
Zlomislic: After you got the news, who did you contact first?
Tyrrell: “When I got the news I was at school so I went to the coaches office, let them know and quickly called my family afterwards.”
Zlomislic: Before playing football at the next level, did you play football a lot growing up? If so, what would be your earliest football memory?
Tyrrell: “Yeah! I started playing when I was around nine and all I can remember was that I was a quarterback, and all I did really was run around and throw the ball up hoping my guys would catch it. I didn’t really know much of the sport then, but I’ve had some great times playing it for sure.”
Zlomislic: Since those times as a nine year old quarterback, you’ve gone through both high school football and college football. What would be your favorite memory within the sport?
Tyrrell: “In University I’ve had a few big games stats wise, the one freshest in my mind would be my last second game winning catch against Sherbrooke last season along with an 11 catch 176 yard game against Sherbrooke also so I had a lot of great games in my career, but those two sound like the best as I look them over.”
Zlomislic: As you mentioned, there were many games that you played at Concordia, what was it like to play football as a Stinger?
Tyrrell: “Overall it was good. Our team was tested a lot mentally with all the coaching changes we faced so we were always adapting to what was going on around us but it didn’t stop us from having a good experience and playing a lot of great games.”
Zlomislic: At Concordia, you put up some big totals to finish off your University career, how do you plan to do the same here in the CFL?
Tyrrell: “I’m going to come to Ottawa, come to the CFL and bring a work-horse mentality. Nothing is going to come simple when I come there, so I’m focused on one thing at a time as we go forward and head into training camp in the new year.”
Zlomislic: As a Canadian football player growing up, you were highly exposed to the CFL, was one of your childhood dreams to become a CFL player?
Tyrrell: “Yeah forsure! Growing up, I was in football, basketball, and soccer but I spent most time playing basketball so it wasn’t thought over that I was going to the NFL or CFL. As a kid, my dream was to be a professional athlete, I was never specific on what sport I’d like to go forward in but I knew I was going to be in sports.”
Zlomislic: You mentioned that you spent a lot of your time playing sports. If you weren’t accessed to sports, where would you be?
Tyrrell: “I’ve been a barber for a little while now and I enjoy it, so I’d definitely finish up my schooling and get into the barber industry.”
Zlomislic: If you could use one word to describe yourself as a football plaer, what are you?
Tyrrell: “I’m a competitor. I’ve been driven to compete everywhere I go.”
Zlomislic: What excites you the most about the new opportunity given here in Ottawa?
Tyrrell: “Just to play football again honestly. When you spend so much time around the sport it gets really exciting when you get the opportunity to play at the next level. Other than that, it’s the impact I can have off the field. I remember as a kid there were always these CFL teams coming to my school and talking to kids and putting an impact on their lives, I’m excited to do things off of the field and impact some things.”