NASHVILLE --- Former Tennessee State football player Tyler Lusk looked to continue his career on the gridiron. He accomplished his goal, but in a way he could never imagine and the experience was life changing.
Lusk played for the Big Blue and graduated in 2011 with a degree in Psychology. He pursued his dreams to play at a higher level, but to no avail. The dedication to staying active and in shape paid off as a colleague told him about the opportunity to try out for a movie being filmed in Arkansas. The production was in need of players who could accurately depict football action and represent players from the past.
At the time, Lusk was working at Dillard’s selling lady’s shoes when he decided to try something new.
“It was a great calling for me,” said Lusk. “By taking the step to get in the car and take the chance; the story just correlated with my life in a very positive way.”
Lusk had no idea what the film was about when he first took the job, but soon learned about the real life story of former Arkansas Razorback Brandon Burlsworth.
The movie “GREATER” tells the story of Burlsworth, who many consider to be the greatest walk-on in college football history. The former great walked on at Arkansas and was essentially told he was not good enough to play for the Razorbacks. Through incredible hard work and perseverance, Burlsworth not only played at Arkansas (1995-98); he became an All-American and a two-time All-SEC selection.
He was then selected in the third round by the Indianapolis Colts before dying tragically in an automobile accident 11 days after the 1999 draft. Burlsworth participated in the Colts’ post-draft mini-camp after which then-Colts president Bill Polian and then-Colts offensive line Coach Howard Mudd proclaimed Burlsworth the team’s starter at guard on opening day, and expected him to be a fixture on the offensive line for years to come.
Lusk received the call on the way back home informing him of his selection for the film. The journey took him back to Little Rock where he and the other selections worked with Hollywood sports movie choreographer Jeff Sanders who put all of the players through an NFL-like training camp in which they had to prepare for the filming of the game and practice scenes.
The players also had to watch actual footage of the games to help prepare for their performances during their month of training. The added information helped as the plays for the film were choreographed with exact detail.
“It was an incredible experience,” Lusk said. “We had to make hits, or get hit, at the correct places and the right time on each play”
In all, he played eight separate players from numerous teams during the month of filming where they worked eight hour days. The intense filming could last as long as four-to-five hours for a scene which lasted less than three minutes on screen.
The experience would produce lasting relationships. Lusk made contacts which included a coordinator who has called upon the former Tiger for other projects, including football commercials for Comcast and ESPN.
“I decided to drop my job and take a risk,” commented Lusk. “The story we portrayed was all about a determined man who was the ultimate risk taker. It is all about being in a position to put your-self into a better place. So I continued to go with the risk.”
The Murfreesboro, Tenn. product has continued his path of making determined changes. He is currently working on a book titled “After Athletics” which helps collegiate athletes to interpret what they have learned through sport and how it translates into the real world. Lusk hopes to provide motivation for former players of all sports on how to use their training, time management and discipline, just to name a few of the attributes, to succeed after college.
Lusk is also taking another big step as he is planning on moving to California to start his own business relating to the entertainment industry.
“Taking this step came from many things I learned from Coach (Rod) Reed and my time at Tennessee State,” Lusk stated. “We learned to keep striving and don’t be afraid no matter the obstacle. The experience turned my life around.”
“GREATER” is set to be released nationally on Friday, August 26.