Recently, I spoke with Titans offensive tackle, Byron Stingily. We talked about a variety of things, including how he has grown as a player, and what football has done to help him. What I found was a humble, yet very inspiring guy. I think he can teach us all about how working hard will truly pay off, no matter how long it takes. And the most important part? Never give up.
Growing up, how much of an impact did football have on your life? Was it a lifelong journey to get to this point?
"Growing up, I didn't watch or know anything about it. It wasn't until my senior year of high school that a junior college coach came up to me and told me, "If you put on 50 pounds, I can get you a scholarship." So I caught onto football late, from senior year of high school until now. In the beginning I was pretty bummed I didn't get to play for a university. But I went from 230-320 in a year and got the chance to get out of junior college and play D1 ball. I didn't always know what would happen, living at home, getting overlooked. It's been a journey but I've always wanted to do it."
Who did you root for growing up?
"I actually didn't watch football at all, I didn't know too much about different conferences and all that. I just always thought football would be a way to escape out of my situation, to get out of my environment. I was always outside, playing around, but I never sat down to watch it. I used football to make a way to survive and experience a different life."
What do you like to do with your free time?
"I'm pretty boring. I like to watch Fresh Prince, Martin, shows I watched growing up. I travel here and there, but I'm usually in Nashville. I like to hang out, friends from Louisville will come visit, but that's about it."
Shifting gears to your experiences with the Titans- You've played for this team for four years now. Do you feel like you have had time to fully develop as a tackle? It seems like with your expanded playing time this year, you're competing for a spot.
"I think I'm developing and getting better each year. My rookie year I had Michael Roos and David Stewart who had been around for eight, nine years. Being able to watch them and learn professionalism from Roos and different playing styles from Stewart has really helped me to develop. Every year I learn something different from different people. Each year I also think I'm getting better mentally. Mentally, I think I'm stronger. I kinda struggled with the playbook when I first got with the Titans. Now I know the offense pretty well and I can talk the same language with the center and the coaches. You can always do better but I feel a lot more comfortable."
So you definitely feel more comfortable?
"Oh yeah, I'm a lot more comfortable with my technique. I slowed down and I'm a lot more patient. I've had more time to work on stuff. and a lot more playing time. This year has helped a lot, and I'm trying to finish out strong."
Has your game changed with all of the different quarterback changes? Obviously it's going to be different blocking for a more mobile QB like Locker than a pocket passer like Whitehurst. So how do you adjsut your style of play?
"For me, I approach it the same way. Locker is good about moving around, if he needed to. Whitehurst is really good about getting the ball out. It doesn't change anything for us, because it's still the same plays no matter who is back there. I never really pay attention. I just run the plays out of the playbook."
Have you had to change your style of play with the different coaches?
"The coaching styles are different, but I enjoyed both coaches. It was nice having Munch in the room, but I also really like Bob Bostad, the offensive line coach. He's a honest person and really gets after it. He's very straight forward. Whisenhut is a good coach, as well. We really, really worked hard this year, but we just haven't been winning. Once Whiz gets settled in, and we get more used to his system, I think we will be good. I think he is a good fit, and will continue to be a good fit. The way we work and the type of person he is, we will be okay. His system is still new to a lot of players that have been here, so I feel like in a year or two we should be good."
How's the ankle? Whisenhut changed you up to right tackle last game to take some pressure off of it. Did it help?
"The ankle is better. I'm going to treatment every day, but it's still a little tight. It should be alright this last game here. I gotta be ready to finish strong. Moving to the right side helped a lot, and it probably wouldn't have worked on the left. Playing on the right still hurt, but it helped a lot. I could probably get away with it a lot more than on the left, and it was smart to get me out there."
What do you think the future holds for you?
"I really don't know what's going to happen after this year. It will be interesting to see. No one has said anything yet, and I'm just trying to finish out the season. I'll just see what happens, but it will be nice to still be here. I'll keep working wherever I'm at, but you never know. I've been here this long, and to be a sixth round pick and to be here this long and to get this opportunity is something else. And I am very thankful for it."