HJNews.com | Funny Feature on Tyler Larsen, Samm and Bonnie
USU center Tyler Larsen motivated to be the best
Senior has met his "Call of Duty" match Posted: Saturday, September 14, 2013 1:06 amBy Wade Denniston
Tyler and Sam Larsen play "Call of Duty: Black Ops" on the Xbox at their home in Logan Wednesday evening. Cheering them on is their dog Bonnie Belle. (Jennifer Meyers/Herald Journal)
Tyler Larsen has finally met his match.
Utah State’s 6-foot-4, 312-pound senior center is a force to be reckoned with on the gridiron. But when it comes to gaming, that’s a whole other story.
At least when it comes to playing “Call of Duty” with his wife, the former Samantha Miller, a fellow student-athlete who plays softball for the Aggies.
“I don’t like playing with my friends online when she’s playing with me because she does so much better,” Larsen said.
Bryce Walker, a junior offensive lineman for USU, introduced the happily married couple of nearly five months.
“She had foot surgery, so she couldn’t really drive anywhere and Bryce was taking care of her,” Larsen said. “I happened to show up at the house and she asked me if I had an Xbox. I said, ‘Yeah.’ She said, ‘Do you have Call of Duty?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’
“So, she started coming over all the time and we started playing Call of Duty.Basically, that’s what sealed the deal.”
The couple was married on May 31 in California, where she is from.
“It’s great,” Larsen said. “I’m happily married now and just having her cheer me on throughout the whole entire season gives me more motivation to do my best.
“Hopefully, the future ahead of me is bright.”
It certainly is shaping up to be.
Larsen is the leader of an offensive line that has combined for 120 career starts to rank as the fourth-most experienced O-line in the nation.
“These guys, we’re all brothers out there and we’re having fun while we’re beating people to the ground,” Larsen said. “It’s real fun for us being able to pick up from what we started last year.”
Larsen has started 40 consecutive games to rank first in the Mountain West.Why has he been so versatile?
“I guess I’m just a competitive guy and I’m not really going to let anything hold me back,” Larsen said. “I take pride in what I do and this is kind of bad to say, but the center position is my baby. I can’t let anyone play it but me while I’m here.”
The son of LeRoy and Barbara Larsen is coming off one of his best games — if not the best — as an Aggie.
“(Last) Saturday, to me, was his best game since he’s been a Utah State Aggie in my opinion,” USU head coach Matt Wells said. “He totally dominated up front. But, Tyler’s leadership, Tyler’s work ethic and his character is second to none.It’s a standard bearer for all future Aggie offensive linemen.”
Larsen helped pave the way for USU’s offense to rack up 577 yards of total offense, including 217 on the ground, in a dominating 52-20 victory over Air Force on Sept. 7 at Falcon Stadium.
“I’ve just been here a short time, but it was fun to watch,” first-year Utah State offensive line coach Mark Weber said. “He executed well and played hard.”
How did Larsen feel about his performance against Air Force?
“I was flying around, getting knockdowns wherever I could,” Larsen said. “... There was just a lot more energy coming out of me.”
Larsen was credited with five knockdowns against the Falcons to raise his team-leading total to 13.
“That kid has been locked and loaded from the minute I met him,” Wells said.
Despite the fact this is the first year he’s coached Larsen, it didn’t take Weber very long to figure out how special of a player No. 58 is.
“He’s one of the best centers I’ve coached, if not the best,” Weber said.
Not only does Larsen have high expectations for himself, but he expects big things from the rest of his offensive line mates.
“We’re striving to be the best in the nation,” Larsen said. “We’ve got the tools, the weapons and the coaching that we need to actually get there.”
Larsen knows exactly what his group has to do to achieve that lofty goal.
“Keep working hard like we have been, watching film together, being confident in one another,” Larsen said. “We always talk about how when we’re out there we’ve got to be a fist instead of just individual fingers. When you’re a fist, you’re strong and that’s what we focus on.”
Larsen earned first-team all-Western Athletic Conference honors for the second straight season in 2012, becoming the first two-time first-team all-league selection at USU since Kevin Robinson (2004, 2007). He was the first offensive lineman to accomplish the feat since Mauricio Jourdan (1996-97).
Following his stellar prep career at Jordan High, Larsen joined the Aggies in 2009. He appeared in the first two games before suffering a knee injury against Texas A&M in Game 2. He was awarded a medical redshirt season.
Entering his final year with the Aggies, Larsen is considered one of the best centers in the nation as he is on four preseason watch lists.
That’s nothing new to him, though.
“I wouldn’t say it’s hard to live up to them,” Larsen said. “I think it’s more of a motivation to actually achieve one of those (awards). I’ve been on (those watch lists) the last two or three years and I’m kind of sick of just being on them.
“I want to actually be able to hold one of those trophies. It’s motivation.”
Weber knows Larsen still has plenty of room for improvement.
“He needs to keep getting better fundamentally with certain things and he needs to continue to push himself in how he plays, and continue to play hard,” Weber said.
Though his USU career is slowly winding down, Larsen has aspirations of playing at the next level — his brother, Cody, is currently on the Baltimore Ravens’ practice squad. Cody played collegiately at Southern Utah.
“I played with an urgency the last three years, but this year, I feel a lot more is at stake,” Larsen said. “Now that I’m married and everything, the NFL is a big dream for us and it makes me want to go harder so I can actually achieve that goal and dream of being in the NFL, and be able to provide for her.”
Larsen and his wife are the proud parents of one dog, Bonnie Belle, who is a mastiff/lab mix.