The Central Connecticut State Blue Devils will enter the 2021 fall season looking for something to prove as a unit after tying for the second place spot in the Northeast Conference preseason standings.
CCSU, who are coming off a 2019 conference title, brings some high-caliber players back to its offense this season. Notably, at wide receiver, is Tyshaun James.
James, a 6-3 210-pound receiver out of Middletown, has quickly emerged as a go-to guy in head coach Ryan McCarthy’s offense. An all-NEC first-team pick in 2019, he led the NEC in total touchdowns with 14, putting him 23rd nationally, and was 12th in the NCAA with 20.38 yards per reception. He was second on the team in receiving yards (978) and second in receiving touchdowns with nine.
The jump from a reliable receiver to an indispensible one in his sophomore and junior campaigns is dramatic. Going into his senior season, he’s looking to elevate even higher now that the team is back to business with a full season ahead of them.
“I have high expectations for myself and the team,” said James. “We didn’t have the spring season so we got to practice for a long time. We really didn’t have our full team here because of COVID, and some guys stayed home for their safety. Now we’re finally all together with camp.
The last game the Blue Devils played was in late November of 2019, when the Blue Devils lost to University of Albany in the FCS playoffs 42-14. James had four catches for 23 yards in the loss after leading the team in receiving the three weeks leading into the loss.
Now that football is back, James has one more guaranteed season to improve on his numbers, turn some heads and gain some respect from peers and others around the conference.
“I’ve been working out and training way harder than I have ever trained before because it’s my senior year, and it’s the last guarantee of football. I definitely want to go all out and I have high expectations for myself because I feel like I’m still not respected in a lot of people’s eyes.”
When it comes to the outside noise, like the NEC all-conference preseason poll and team, it’s just that. Noise. James blocks it out, and goes about his business and lets his skills on the field do the talking.
“I feel like I don’t have to prove myself to a lot of reporters or a lot of the other people because a lot of those people were never in my position,” said James. “I really don’t take a lot of that stuff seriously, but when it comes down to it, I know what I’m capable of and I know what I can do. After this season, a lot of people will see that and they’ll be like ‘dang, this guy really is what he says he is.’”
James worked on the cadences and techniques of the position this offseason, working out in Georgia in camps to try and enhance his skill set for the position.
“This is like my fourth year playing wide receiver, so it was basically learning the position, learning new techniques” said James on where he improved. “… Just trying to get my technique right. I know I have the physical shape, but once you get the technique right and you go up against someone as good as you, you can have the upper hand in technique.”
Even while still learning the little nuances of the position, James thinks his ability to be flexible and learn every day gives him a high ceiling.
“I (think) I have a really high ceiling,” said James. “I’m still learning day-by-day and I’m always willing to learn. I look at other players whether it’s in conference or out of conference or in NFL, and I try to base my game off of different stuff and people’s play styles (I like).”
James’ hopes for football after CCSU are present, but not quite on the forefront of his mind.
At the moment, the focus is on getting the Blue Devils to 1-0 at the end of each week, and to keep his mind on the task at hand – winning a National Championship.
“Honestly, just control what I can control,” said James. “Try not to look too far ahead with the NFL and stuff like that. I’ve got college football season, I have a game September 3rd so I’m trying to worry about that game. Go game by game and go 1-0. … Try and win some games and get to that National Championship.”