Though more than simply an interested observer in FAU’s current quarterback battle between Jason Driskel and Daniel Parr, tight end Tyler Cameron doesn’t regret the move that kept him from being a part of it.
“Not at all,” said Cameron, who transferred to FAU from Wake Forest last summer as a quarterback but quickly switched positions. “Tight end, you have to play so fast — you really only have one guy to worry about — and I love it. I liked quarterback, but I just wanted to be a playmaker, running out there like [Arizona Cardinals safety] Tyrann Mathieu and those guys who are exciting to watch. I always wanted to be a part of that and I think that’s why I’ve fared so well.”
Rather than hiding behind offensive linemen and looking for gaps between defensive backs Cameron is spending this fall refining the techniques that allow him to get the upper hand on opposing linemen on one play, then split the defensive secondary on the next – regardless of the quarterback behind center.
The manner in which Cameron carries himself on and off the field can lead to comparisons with former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow. But, while Tebow refused time after time to make the conversion from quarterback to skill player, Tyler Cameron has not only accepted the challenge, but is flourishing in the new role.
“I’m loving tight end and I’m having a lot of fun playing it,” Cameron said. “It’s been a blast. I’ve learned a lot – I’m still learning everyday – and there is so much technique involved with the transition. As a quarterback, you don’t have to run as much and I had played tight end on the Wake Forest scout team my freshman year and it was a blast catching and running.”
Cameron, in the first year of new offensive coordinator Travis Trickett’s scheme, has every reason to enjoy his time on the field. Entering what will be his final collegiate season, the pressure is on for Cameron — who caught 21 balls for 257 yards in 2015 — to show that the progress and development he’s made over the past few months will pay off come the Sept. 3 season-opener against Southern Illinois.
That pressure increased a little more with Thursday’s revelation that backup tight end Dustin Bowens, considered the best blocker among Owl tight ends, is expected to miss the first couple of games because of a chest injury.
In a little more than a year, Cameron has gone from a quarterback refugee who completed 17 of 40 passes in two years as a Demon Deacon to a tight end on the verge of a breakout season that could help the Owls finally fly in 2016.
Cameron studied game footage from several current NFL tight ends to aid with the transition, the most notable of the group includes Washington Redskins star and former University of Florida tight end Jordan Reed. A quarterback before arriving in Gainesville, Reed burst onto the NFL scene in 2015 with 114 catches for the NFC East champions.
“I watched a lot of [former Arkansas tight end] Hunter Henry and really tried to find guys that fit my mold and watch how they play,” Cameron said. “Jordan Reed, he kind of fits my frame and I’ve tried to see how he’s successful.”
As a tight end Cameron has become one of the more vocal leaders on offense – a trait he brought with him from the quarterback position. Now he is intent on becoming a safety blanket for whichever player wins a quarterback battle that, not too long ago, figured to include him.
“He looks good,” FAU coach Charlie Partridge said. “He’s right on schedule coming out of fall and spring. Where he is now, his leadership skills, his playing ability are right where we hoped they would be.”