Tyler, a strong side defensive end, is going into his senior season at Hertford County High School and his fourth under the tutelage of his head coach, Scott Privott, who expects a productive season from his star player.
“He’s our strong side defensive end, so he plays over the tight end. He’s going to rush the passer,” Privott said. “He plays the run well. He can get after the passer. He’s faster than normal defensive ends in his conference, and he’s a very solid football player.”
Off the field, Privott said Tyler brings a lot of intangibles to his team, including calm, collected attitude and a strong work ethic.
“He’s a well-rounded young man. He’s a respectable young man. He carries himself in a well demeanor, and is humble when it comes to football,” Privott said.
“He’s a good leader. He keeps [his teammates] motivated. He gets them going in practice, pushing them along,” he added.
This season, Tyler will be an “important piece” to his team, starting at defensive end and at tight end. At these positions, in addition to his leadership role on the team, Privott believes Tyler’s success will set the tone for the entire season.
“Defensively, as he plays well the defense will play well,” Privott said.
Last year, the team defense allowed only 14 points during conference play. Privott said it would difficult to try and repeat a performance like that with the losses suffered by the team, but with his “cornerstone,” Tyler, on the team, it remains a possibility.
So what bakes Tyler such a valuable player? Privott described his play on the field as “hard-nosed” and that he has a knack for the position, citing his speed, quickness and power to why. He added that Tyler possesses a “very quick first step.”
“He’ll go out on the football l field and he’s relentless. He always seems to be around the football,” Privott explained.
While Tyler makes a strong case as Hertford County’s own superman, his coach said there is always room to improve. Two things Privott would like to see out of Tyler would be continued time in the weight room and over penetrating gaps on the field.
Privott praised Tyler for his consistency in the weight room, stating that he’s been “living there” since February.
“He has all the athletic ability, but I think strength wise he needs to get stronger in the weight. He’s made much improvement, but he still has a way to go. The more he works in the weight room the better off he’ll be.”
Privott also said that Tyler’s great speed has allowed him to over penetrate during pass rushes and letting quarterbacks get outside of the pocket – something he’d like to see Tyler work on for next year.
“Sometimes he gets caught inside,” Privott said. “He’ll try to slant inside, and every now and then he has a tendency to let the quarterback out of the pocket.”
His coach also thinks the relationship between Tyler and the Terps will also lead to success for his defensive end. Privott said that Tyler instantly fell in love with the university, and that initial reaction played a large role in Tyler’s decision.
“I really think that when he visited Maryland, he really fell in love with it. That was his first scholarship offer as a Division 1 school, and that was special to him when he first got it. He really couldn’t believe it because we didn’t see it coming.”
“We didn’t really get any notifications from the [Maryland] coaches that it was coming. It came here one day, I opened it and went to his class and showed it to [Dontez]. I think two weeks later he and his parents went to Maryland. He did a lot of campus up there and he just kept Maryland on his mind.”
“His parents liked that it wasn’t too far from home, and I think he had some family that graduated from Maryland so he felt comfortable living in the [Washington,] D.C./Maryland/Baltimore area.”
Privott, who had advised Tyler to analyze the pluses and minuses of each college, focus on academics, develop a relationship with the coaching staff and explore all of his options, felt Maryland fit best with Tyler’s criteria.
“He was looking for a good football atmosphere,” Privott said. “When he went there, I think he really liked the facilities. He liked the Comcast Center and he really liked the locker rooms. And when he went onto the field he really liked that. I think he liked the curriculum and the staff that they’re going to have at the school there for him.”
Privott also acknowledged that Maryland is in a rebuilding stage for their football program, and believes Tyler can be a crucial part of the turnaround.
“If you can’t rush the quarterback, and he has time to sit back, after four or five seconds somebody is coming open, so I think a pass-rushing defensive end is one of the key parts.”
With that said, Privott outlined what Tyler will have to do in order to reach his potential at the next level, including working hard in the weight room, staying on the right course, remembering his education and focusing on his goals ahead of him.
“If he keeps working hard, keeps learning and does what the coaches ask of him, I think he has a shot to make it at the next level,” Privott said. “he’s the type of kid who doesn’t like to sit on the sidelines, so he’ll do whatever he has to to get on the football field.”
When asked where he sees Dontez four years from now, Privott said, “A good, productive citizen. He’ll be close to getting a degree from Maryland. I foresee him being an intricate part of Maryland’s rebuilding program.”