BY GENE NARDI
Palm Beach Central High School senior receiver Tyler Freeman signed on National Signing Day with West Liberty University in West Virginia to play football for the Hilltoppers in the fall. He will take on the role of slot receiver upon landing at camp and hopes to make an impact early on for the team.
Freeman was not always a quick receiver. In middle school, he was a much shorter, stocky Western Communities Football League defensive end and nose guard. Once Freeman hit high school, his height increased, and so did his speed. At 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, he fits the perfect mold of a receiver.
Freeman has always had a passion for football, since the sport runs in the family blood. His father played college football at Florida State University and went on to play a five-year career in the National Football League with the New Orleans Saints and the Green Bay Packers.
Freeman’s season statistics, at a glance, do not scream stellar, with only 24 receptions for 520 yards and three touchdowns. What attracted scouts was his ability to make big plays in the big games.
The Broncos started their 2016 winless after five games, but had a resurgence as a district contender in a pivotal game when they defeated district foe Seminole Ridge 41-27.
“I felt like my senior season wasn’t going the way I wanted it to,” Freeman said. “There was a lot behind this game being senior night, and I needed that game.”
He combined with running back Anthony Wynds for five touchdowns on the night. Freeman alone had three receptions for 209 yards.
Freeman’s ability to make big plays after the catch is what began to catch the attention of Florida A&M, Valparaiso, Stetson and West Liberty universities. Education is Freeman’s most important priority, though. About to graduate with a 3.7 GPA, he would like to study international business or finance.
“Every kid has a dream of the NFL, but I care more about my education,” Freeman said. “I plan to get my degree before the possibility of the NFL, if that’s what God has planned for me.”
His commitment to the game has been a daily routine for the three-year varsity starter. He was moved up to varsity after his freshman season and stayed there for the remainder of his career. “We didn’t have equipment at home, so we used old shoes, no cones, and did catching drills to get better,” Freeman said.
Freeman elected to sign with West Liberty because he immediately felt like he was part of the team, and has the opportunity to play early on with chances to become an impact player.
“My visit there was two days, and I really liked the campus,” Freeman said.
As a Florida native, he will have to adjust to the colder climate, but welcomes the opportunity. Freeman is already preparing by keeping in contact with Bronco alumni at West Liberty and getting acclimated to the workout routines.
Freeman is excited to begin his career at the next level and had sound words of wisdom for the younger players coming up for the Broncos: “Take care of business on the field and in the classroom.”
To follow Freeman and the West Liberty Hilltoppers, visit www.hilltoppersports.com.
ABOVE: Palm Beach Central’s Tyler Freeman earns extra yards after a catch against Vero Beach during a year in which his clutch plays stood out to scouts and ended with him signing with West Liberty University.