For the vast majority of individuals, it takes endless amounts of work to make a career at the highest levels of sport.
If his high school and college careers showed us anything, however, it is that Tyler Boyles has a character and a work ethic of the highest quality.
A four-year multi-sport standout on the football field and basketball court at Raceland who later went on to score 1,175 points as a four-year basketball standout at Shawnee State, Boyles has turned himself into one of the rising young standouts in the coaching profession from a football perspective. The 29-year old, after spending five seasons on the football coaching staff at Middle Tennessee State, got his shot to coach inside a professional football program as Boyles was hired as the Assistant to the Head Coach inside the Indianapolis Colts’ organization.
Making the opportunity more special? The rare occurrence of a young man going from playing college basketball to coaching college and now, pro football — and making the transition look seamless in the process.
“It’s been an interesting journey from playing college basketball to coaching college football,” Boyles said. “However, it’s been a journey where I’ve put in a lot of work and a lot of time. It’s been fun, and I’m excited about this opportunity to be in the NFL and to be with a great organization like the Indianapolis Colts. I’m looking forward to what that brings.”
At Raceland, Boyles was essentially an automatic producer from the time that the quarterback and wing stepped into both sports for the Rams. A multi-year starter for both programs, Boyles actually had more success, at least from a team standpoint, on the gridiron.
During his four-year career with the Rams on the football field, Raceland made the KHSAA Class 1A State Playoffs in every season, ultimately accumulating a 37-12 overall record in four seasons, as Boyles threw for 26 touchdowns in his final two seasons with the Rams.
The 2008 campaign — which was Boyles’ senior year — is still one that Raceland fans talk about to this day.
Still regarded by many as the best team in school history from a talent standpoint, the Rams won nine contests by double-figures, including seven during the regular season, en route to running the table during the regular season. Raceland ultimately won its first 12 games, but fell in the Class 1A Regional Finals to Lexington Christian by a scant seven-point margin (27-20).
Despite not achieving the holy grail, Boyles put together statistics that rivaled any player’s. The senior completed 82 of his 129 passes for a 63.6 percent accuracy rate while posting 12 touchdowns to only two interceptions, ran for 181 yards and seven more scores on the ground, and, as a defensive back, made 84 tackles while picking off a team-high three passes.
To cap it off, Boyles took two of his three interceptions back for touchdowns, rounding out a gridiron effort that has rivaled any Raceland player’s efforts before or since.
“I take a lot of pride in being from Raceland,” Boyles said. “It’s a special place and a special community where a lot of people rallied around what you did and gave a lot of support to you. The guys that I grew up playing football and basketball with from a young age are the same guys that I played with all the way up. It was a special place and a special group of people to be around — not only the guys that I played with, but the community support, which has always been good.”
In its Week 9 game against archrival Russell, who sat just five minutes from Raceland, it was Boyles who helped win the game for the Rams, as the senior, the lone player in the backfield in a five-wide set, snookered the Red Devil defense by calling his own audible, dropping back three steps, and taking off on the right side for a red-zone scramble that resulted in Boyles scoring a touchdown with less than 20 seconds to play in the opening half.
The half-ending touchdown proved to be the difference in Raceland’s 30-23 win over Russell, and started a string of six consecutive victories that the Rams took home over the Red Devils (the series was halted in 2013 and 2014) before Russell ended the streak in 2016.
“I remember that game like it was yesterday,” Boyles said. “It was a lot of fun. Being able to be a part of bringing the Russell-Raceland game back, and being a part of a rivalry where we hadn’t played since the 70s, was something special.”
In basketball, however, Boyles was a special talent, too. A 20-point-per-game scorer as a senior and an individual who posted a 46-point outing that included 10 three-pointers against Owingsville (Ky.) Bath County, the senior was a wanted man for his scoring ability and his natural, easygoing leadership qualities. Shawnee State, due to its close proximity, was the lucky beneficiary in that exchange as Boyles.
“That was very special to me,” Boyles said. “Being able to play somewhere that was close to home and right down the river from me, so that my family could come to the games, was amazing. (Jeff) Hamilton was great to me. He was always great to me when I was playing, and he was equally as great ever since I graduated. He even drove all the way to North Carolina to attend my wedding, so he’s always been great to me. He’s somebody that I have always respected.”
A starter throughout each of the final three seasons of his college career, Boyles played in 112 games and started 79 while averaging 10.5 points per game over his college career. As a senior, Boyles, along with fellow seniors Jeremy Bennington, Ian Nixson, and Tyler Morgan, led Shawnee State to its best showing since joining the Mid-South Conference until it was passed by this year’s SSU squad. The Bears went 16-14 and won 11 Mid-South Conference contests — the latter a high that still stands today.
“Shawnee State, in general, holds a special place in my heart,” Boyles said. “Some of my best friends in life were my college teammates that I played with there. They’re guys that I talked to every single day, and as a result, Shawnee State and the men’s basketball program holds a special place in my heart.”
After a graduate assistant stint at Eastern Kentucky parlayed into an opportunity to become the quarterbacks coach and director of football operations at LaGrange College,
Boyles moved on to Middle Tennessee State after being hired by Rick Stockstill as a graduate assistant for the Division I program, and later was promoted to a quality control assistant position in 2017. He led the MTSU quarterbacks to a quarterback rating above 140 for all but one season and led the Blue Raiders to a winning season in all but one year during his five seasons on the staff.
In the process, Boyles got to learn from two of the better offensive coordinators in football — Buster Faulkner, a rising assistant coach who recently was hired as the offensive coordinator at Georgia, and Tony Franklin, a nationally-known coaching name whom many offensive minds have studied under as they have made their own ascensions up the college and professional ranks.
“My time at Middle Tennessee State was also great,” Boyles said. “I was fortunate enough to be there for five seasons, and (Rick) Stockstill was there the entire time. Coach Stock is one of the best guys that I’ve ever been around. He’s one of the best human beings and people to be able to work for. Buster was really good. He ended up leaving after a year to go to Arkansas State. Then, we hired Tony. He’s a guy that I really worked closely with over the past four years, not only with football but with off-the-field stuff, as well. I learned a lot from Coach Franklin. He’s a guy that I contribute a lot of my success to, and learning the game of football from. He’s someone that I’ll definitely look up to for the rest of my life.”
The amount of knowledge that Boyles learned from those masterminds has parlayed into his latest opportunity, where Boyles, after being out of college for less than seven years, already has an NFL coaching position that most could only dream of.
That’s especially true when one talks about Frank Reich — the third-year head coach of the Colts.
Besides orchestrating the largest comebacks in college and pro football history against the Miami Hurricanes and the Houston Oilers, respectively, Reich, a backup who played in the NFL for 14 seasons, coached in two Super Bowls (Indy, 2010 and Philadelphia, 2017) and won one with the Philadelphia Eagles as its offensive coordinator. In his first season in Indianapolis, Reich led the Colts to a 10-6 overall record and a playoff berth, then led Indianapolis to a 7-9 overall record in 2019 despite the loss of Andrew Luck to early retirement from the sport of football.
“It was super special,” Boyles said. “My wife (Bethany) and I talked about the position for a while. I didn’t really know if it was going to happen for a while or not, but when it did happen, we were very excited about the opportunity, especially to work for a great organization like the Colts, and more specifically, Coach Reich. He’s a fantastic human being, a Christian man, and somebody that I definitely want to work under and learn from.”
With Boyles continuing to advance on a promising career path, it’s clear that he’s already established himself as a rising assistant coach in America’s most popular sport. However, his determination goes far beyond just getting to the professional level.
“Making it to this level was always a goal of mine, so anyway that I can still be around the game of football, and impact people positively, is great,” Boyles said. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to impact people, have some fun along the way, and see what happens. I’m excited about this journey. I’m excited where it will lead and what God has in store for my life.”