'The most talented guy I've ever coached': Tyler Guyton's rise from starting football as a high school senior to the NFL Draft

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Bill Bedenbaugh has built an offensive line factory at Oklahoma. He’s produced 11 NFL Draft picks in a decade. An Oklahoma player has won the Big 12’s Offensive Lineman of the Year award in five of the past seven years.

His latest protégé, right tackle Tyler Guyton, has the highest potential he’s seen.

“He’s the most talented guy I’ve ever coached,” Bedenbaugh said.

Granted, ‘most talented’ isn’t synonymous with ‘best.’ Bedenbaugh has coached All-Americans like Creed Humphrey and Orlando Brown. Guyton’s highest honor was an honorable mention all-conference nod. But most guys Bedenbaugh coaches have played offensive line their entire lives. Guyton’s been doing so for three years. 

His maturation over the past two seasons, however, has projected him to go in the first round of Thursday’s NFL Draft. His athleticism at 6-foot-7, 328 pounds cannot be taught.

And yet, Guyton never thought of himself as an offensive lineman. Or a football player.

Guyton grew up playing basketball. He bounced around Austin area high schools before enrolling at Manor for his senior year. Football coaches approached him in the first weeks that fall wondering, A. who the hell he was and B. if he’d come out for practice? Guyton politely declined. He was a hooper.

One day, Manor head coach Jimmie Mitchell ran into Guyton on his way to the front office. Mitchell dove into the same sales pitch for football. Guyton again said no. But Mitchell was more persuasive than his assistants were, saying he could be a great player with his size and athleticism. 

So Guyton followed Mitchell to the field house that afternoon for practice, chose to play defensive line and introduced himself to his position coach, Joel Velasco.

“I must be living right,” Velasco thought. “He shows up and, shoot, we couldn’t find a pair of cleats to fit him.”

It wasn’t a seamless transition to football, even after they found him cleats. Guyton was a great kid but didn’t understand that practice was an everyday requirement. Or games, for that matter.

In the middle of the season, Guyton told Mitchell he couldn’t play in that week’s game. He had a family reunion in Dallas. Mitchell looked at him, bewildered, and said he couldn’t miss a district game. 

“But, Coach, I really want to go,” Guyton said.

“I’d go to the family reunion with you, Tyler,” Mitchell said. “I’d enjoy the heck out of that. But they’re counting on us.”

Part of Guyton’s practice problem was that he didn’t have a car. So Mitchell added him to his carpool club. Mitchell would drive his pickup out to get Guyton, who was the furthest away, then pick up 4-star defensive lineman Princely Umanmielen, now at Ole Miss, then scoop up fellow lineman Madior Dieng, who played at Trinity Valley Community College. All three were over 6-foot-5. 

“It looked like a clown show with me driving and all these guys with their heads on the roof of the truck,” Mitchell said.

That 2019 Manor team finished the regular season 5–5, but by the end of the year, Guyton had turned into a menace alongside Umanmielen. Manor caught fire in the playoffs, reaching the fourth round behind its defensive line and running back Tahj Brooks, now at Texas Tech.

Since Guyton only played his senior year, when most recruits had already committed to a college or had narrowed down to a select few, he didn’t get much attention. However, Mitchell had a good relationship with TCU’s staff, which, under the direction of Gary Patterson, had recruited Manor heavily. Mitchell texted a picture of Guyton over to then-TCU defensive coordinator Chad Glasgow.

“I took a picture of him next to a door,” Mitchell said. “Everybody knows how tall doors are. And I said, ‘You’ve got to come down and see this kid.’”

TCU was Guyton’s only offer coming out of Manor. In high school, Mitchell and assistant coach Claude Bassett, who’d coached at BYU, told Guyton he’d eventually switch to offensive line in college. Guyton never wanted to play there; instead, he opted for defense, where he could sack the quarterback. Or tight end where he could catch a touchdown pass. The offensive line didn’t have enough glory. 

Guyton did catch a touchdown pass in two seasons at TCU and even started a game as an H-back. But he officially bought into the idea of being an offensive lineman once he transferred to Oklahoma. 

Guyton was raw in his first season, allowing two sacks in 191 pass-blocking attempts spread out over five starts. Bedenbaugh says Guyton realized his potential in the Cheez-It Bowl against Florida State when he matched up against potential first-round pick Jared Verse.

Bedenbaugh believes football is more mental than physical. Guyton always had the physical tools. He’s made an astronomical change in his learning habits and maturity. That translated to nine starts at right tackle in 2023, the most critical spot on the line for left-handed quarterback Dillon Gabriel, where he allowed zero sacks in 663 passing attempts.

“There’s not one thing he doesn’t have to be a great offensive lineman,” Bedenbaugh said. “He’s got every tool and every trait that you need.”

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