TYLER Cole figured, reluctantly, that he’d played his final football game back in 2011.
Now the former Dragon — who missed his senior season at Jefferson in 2012 with an injury — will at last get the chance to resume his football career having earned a walk-on spot at West Georgia.
“It’s just an unbelievable experience,” Cole said. “It’s truly a dream come true just to be able to have this opportunity.”
It’s also the result of a lot of hard work that began in earnest last year.
Cole said he was at the beach last summer when he received a text message from former teammate Wesley Simonton asking if he wanted to play football again.
“I was like, ‘shoot, yeah,’ I didn’t get that opportunity senior year, so yeah I’d love to get back at it.”
Cole spent his entire freshman year of college attending the University of North Georgia’s Oakwood campus and working out four times a week with Simonton with the idea that both would find a way to continue their careers in college.
While Simonton now has potential opportunities to play at the next level, Cole saw his chance to do so when he traveled to West Georgia July 9 for a tryout alongside 100 other players also wishing to extend their careers.
“They said they were only taking three to five,” Cole said. “Just to be a part of that … I’m just truly blessed.”
The 6-2, 215-lb. Cole tried out at linebacker, though West Georgia coaches talked with him about potentially playing defensive end.
Cole had actually visited West Georgia during the fall of his senior year and “fell in love with the campus.” He said he knew he eventually wanted to attend school there.
“The town is really neat … It kind of reminds me of home, Jefferson — it's kind of small there,” he said. “The campus itself, everything is just right there. It’s a beautiful campus.”
He added that West Georgia’s football program has “a great facility.”
Cole wasn’t able to play alongside his teammates in 2012 when Jefferson won the Class AA state title, which he said was “devastating.”
“I didn’t even get to play in the scrimmage,” he said. “I was literally out for the whole season. I never saw it coming.”
But in retrospect, Cole sees it as something he had to endure.
“I know it was God’s plan for me,” he said. “He was putting me through this challenge. I had to look to him for strength to get through it.”
Now Cole is ready to begin the next phase of his football career — a career he at one time thought was over.
“I never thought it would come around again,” Cole said. “But Wesley then texted me and I was like ‘possibly, we can do this.’”