By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — In the year 2020, the football legend of Bill Belichick is well-established. His 46 years in the NFL — and the run of winning six Super Bowls as a head coach, plus two more as a defensive coordinator — have made him one of the most influential men to ever roam the sidelines.
A couple of months shy of his 68th birthday, it would be understandable if Belichick took a slight step back, limiting his workload a bit as he enters year No. 21 at the helm of the New England Patriots. But clearly, Belichick is not much one for resting on his laurels.
That is the one and only takeaway from a tweet that was sent out to the world by the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (a tweet brought to light by Mike Reiss on Wednesday). If you’ve never heard of the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders, well, that’s because you’re not Bill Belichick.
Arguably the greatest head coach of all time was not in Indianapolis to play patty-cake with the media on Tuesday. Instead, a day earlier, he was standing in the middle of a football field, under steady rainfall, watching the workout of defensive end Tyshun Render.
The imagery is something to behold.
The mastermind behind 6 Patriots Super Bowls was on campus yesterday to watch Tyshun Render workout as he prepares for his professional career.#BlueRaiders | #MT | #EATT | #MiddleMade pic.twitter.com/EJrZatS1eI
— Middle Tennessee FB (@MT_FB) February 25, 2020
Suffice it to say, not a lot of NFL head coaches were on hand for the workout of a defensive end prospect at Middle Tennessee State. And not a lot of NFL head coaches were on hand, in the rain, for the workout of a defensive end prospect out of Middle Tennessee State just a few weeks after standing on the field at the Super Bowl to be honored as part of the NFL 100 All-Time Team. But, again Bill Belichick is not most NFL head coaches.
If you’re curious, Tyshun Render is a beast of a man at 6-foot-4 and 256 pounds. As a senior, he recorded 49 tackles, including 3.5 sacks and 10 tackles for a loss. He also broke up five passes, forced two fumbles, recovered two fumbles, and had an interception. In the season opener against the Michigan Wolverines, Render had seven tackles and a pass defense. He had four tackles and one sack against Iowa, too.
Belichick has dipped into the pool from non-powerhouse FBS schools to draft players in recent years, to varied degrees of success. That list is topped, of course, by quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (out of FCS Eastern Illinois), but it also includes Keion Crossen out of Western Carolina, Derek Rivers out of Youngstown State, Antonio Garcia out of Troy, Joe Cardona out of the U.S. Naval Academny, and Kamu Grugier-Hill out of Eastern Illinois.
He’s also found some gems in Division II, somehow discovering Malcolm Butler out of West Alabama and helping turn him into a star cornerback in the NFL. Last year, he signed Bemidji State defensive back Gunner Olszewski and had him playing wide receiver on national TV by October. Belichick also became the only person to draft a player out of Concordia-St. Paul when he selected Zach Moore in 2014, and Moore ended up playing 26 NFL games.
As much as anything, finding talent where few others in his position dare to look remains a staple of Belichick’s Hall of Fame tenure in charge of the Patriots. And even though he’s inching closer to 70, and even though his reputation is cemented in stone, Belichick is still willing to put in the work to find the next diamond in the rough.