Fifth-year senior offensive tackle Tyson Chandler can accurately call himself one of the elder spokesmen of the NC State football team.
He graduated from North Plainfield (N.J.) High in the spring of 2009, but for academic reasons Chandler needed to spend a year at Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy, an experience that Chandler described as "humbling."
"Out of high school, I had a great support system," Chandler recalled, citing his coach Robert Lake in particular. "I had the town behind me. Everyone wanted me to succeed. At the moment I wasn't eligible, I felt like I let a lot of people down."
His year at Fork Union worked out for him, as Chandler noted the only two things he had a chance to concentrate on were his grades and football. That did not make it easy though. Finding ways to communicate with the outside world was difficult.
"For the first 30 days you couldn't even talk to your family or anything except for like five minutes, you got one phone call I think," Chandler remembered.
Arriving at NC State was Chandler's first accomplishment. His second has been transitioning himself into a starting right tackle. He played exclusively defense throughout his prep career, piling up 92 tackles, including 36 for loss, in his final two seasons at North Plainfield.
Then shortly before his first preseason camp at NC State, Chandler was told that he was moving to offensive tackle. Chandler is quick to credit the coaches he has worked with, first Jim Bridge and then Mike Uremovich, for helping him make the move, but there were understandable bumps along the road.
"I used to get mad, like literally," Chandler said. "Sometimes it was depressing. Now I can look at it, and I can make calls and can do different things.
"I am an offensive lineman. That is really rewarding to realize where I came from and where I am today. It's a very rewarding life experience."
The 6-foot-7, 354-pound Chandler has started 23 games the past year after he acknowledged being thrown into the first his redshirt sophomore season. He feels "very comfortable" taking a leadership role not only on the offensive line but with the team.
He also wants to take the next step to cap his long and twisting journey.
"Being one of the best tackles in the ACC," Chandler said. "I would have come a very long ways."