Tyrese Johnson-Fisher went viral at just 15-years-old and has now given up rugby for a shot at college football fame and eventually, the NFL!
Tyrese Johnson-Fisher was supposed to be the next superstar of the rugby world ever since he put together the ridiculous performance in the video above. The video shows a 15-year-old Tyrese scoring four tries (with an 80-metre score) over a rival school in a semi-final bout. Not just a rugby star, before he went viral, he won the 14-year-old age bracket English schools 100-metre title at 10.91 seconds.
In an interview with the BBC, Tyrese said his first love was football and two premier league clubs actually tried to woo him to leave rugby to join their academies. He opened up about the experience of going viral saying: “I remember opening inboxes and I would get a lot of really nice messages, but I would also have people telling me that I would never be good enough, that I was only this and only that and it really did affect my mental health. I was trying so hard to be a great athlete. I didn’t ask to go viral. To have so much backlash was difficult to handle.”
Through the Leicester Tigers academy he had secured a sports scholarship but he never wanted to be a specialist. Tyrese said “Because I would always do athletics, I never really had the off-season to focus on my skills. I was always juggling, always dipping in and out of different sports. And because rugby was not a sport that I was exposed to as young as many of my team-mates, perhaps I did not love it as much as they did. I was always really an athlete who was playing rugby.”
When he went viral, it’s no surprise that he caught the eye of some scouts in America. Prep schools across the US were interested in him playing American football but he turned down their offers. However, he did accept an invitation to the All-America game in Orlando which brings together the best high-school athletes in the country in front of scouts.
His athletic ability was on full display in Florida and he won a football scholarship at Coastal Carolina University. Last year, however, he gave rugby one last shot, signing with the Bristol Bears. He did not have a single appearance of significance and left after six months with the premiership side. Reflecting on his time with the Bears, Tyrese said: “Literally every aspect of my game was nowhere near good enough. My pass – short, medium and long – the timing of a pass, my hand-off, my high balls, my kicking, my game understanding, I only really ever understood football and athletics, not rugby. I had so much to work on and mentally that was very difficult.”
Turning 21-years-old in September he is going to play in Kansas for a junior college with his eye on the NFL in the future.