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TYLER SASH, FROM A HIGH SCHOOL RIVAL

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A BHGP reader provides a perspective on Sash that we never knew: That of a high school superstar.

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The following was submitted by Nicholas Dorman, a student at the University of Iowa who grew up in Pella and has watched Tyler Sash since middle school.  Thanks to Nicholas, and enjoy.

We hated Tyler Sash and Tyler Sash sure seemed to hate us.

My earliest memory of Tyler Sash came within the confines of the Oskaloosa high school gymnasium, less than thirty minutes from my hometown of Pella. I was there to watch my older sister's basketball team play, but anything that happened that night was wiped from my mind by the show put on my Tyler Sash in the boys' game.

Tyler Sash leaves an impression the moment you first lay eyes on him. He was physically dominant, impossibly confident and his on-court and on-field bravado gave him unyielding admiration from his local fans and hatred from every other fan, player and coach in attendance.  I watched him put up 50 points that night, or maybe it was 60?

He was lethal from everywhere. My middle school brain remembers a cascade of threes ranging from the NBA stripe to three steps beyond half court going in one after the other. He must have hit nine in the first half. Every shot was punctuated with boisterous celebrations and crowd provoking mannerisms. He fed off the opposing crowd's hate, and on that night he was fully stuffed. I don't remember the final score, but I know he singlehandedly buried us.

The mythos of Tyler Sash within the Little Hawkeye Conference grew. One friend told me that the Grinnell crowd pissed him off so much that he shot all of his free throws- all 12 of them- with his head turned sideways towards the fans. Supposedly, he had 300 yards on just six carries one game and also 25 tackles. When Oskaloosa 
traveled to Pella one season, somehow Tyler Sash lost. He then took his frustration out on a medical kit located near the Pella bench. The thing flew across the bench and nearly knocked out our head coach. Whether these stories happened or not, the only thing that mattered is that they seemed possible. Tyler Sash was a legend 
before he even graduated.

Tyler Sash received an offer to play football and basketball at Iowa State University, but chose instead to play football at the University of Iowa. My dad has Iowa season football tickets and I have been going with him since I was just a kid. Upon hearing the news that Tyler Sash was joining Iowa, I had somewhat mixed feelings. "I have to 
root for this guys now?" That question quickly went away and was replaced by another: "What position is he going to play?" In my mind, he could probably play any of them.

It didn't take much to switch sides on Tyler Sash. Like I said, the arrogance and bravado at Oskaloosa that made me hate him were now the things that made me love him. Plus, he could play. He started at safety his freshman year. By the end of his time at Iowa, he had accumulated thirteen interceptions and over 450 interception return yards. If it were not for Bob Sanders, Tyler Sash may have the best highlight reel of any college safety.

He was put on the map by his three-interception performance against Iowa State his freshman year, and that was just a precursor for what lie ahead. He had the game altering interception in Iowa's upset of undefeated and third-ranked Penn State.  Following that, he had the bonkers pick-six against Indiana where the ball bounced 
off four players before finding Tyler Sash's hands. He went 86 yards to the end zone and this began a 32-point swing. My favorite Tyler Sash play occurred during his final interception with the team. He picked off Kirk Cousins of fifth-ranked Michigan State, lateraled the ball to Micah Hyde over a Michigan State wide receiver, and Hyde ran seventy yards to score. The man with the most interception return yards in school history conceded the return to someone else. All of these recorded acts just seemed to confirm the stories I heard about him in high school.

Tyler Sash, with all Big Ten and All-America honors, left school after his junior season to pursue his NFL career. I never doubted he would thrive there. Even when he fell to the sixth round, I was certain that Tyler Sash would find a way to start for an NFL team and eventually star. For whatever reason, it didn't' work out and was out of the NFL in just a few seasons.

News of his death shocked me. The details are still coming out, but losing a man at 27 is always tragic. It seems like more than that here. For the people of Oskaloosa, Southeastern Iowa and, eventually, the entire state and beyond: we mourn the legend that was Tyler Sash.