When Ole Miss tackle Tutankhamen Reyes committed to Ole Miss, the Jamaica, Queens native had two very different dreams. He wanted to play professional football and to one day put on a suit for a meeting in a New York skyscraper.
When he got to Oxford, Reyes made the Dean’s Honor Roll and the SEC All-Academic Honor Roll while making 25 starts at left tackle during his final two seasons. Behind the Rebel offensive line, a record-breaking running back by the name of Deuce McAllister led the SEC with 169.2 all-purpose yards per game.
Today, as a nine-year NFL veteran with an executive MBA from the University of Miami, he has achieved both of his childhood goals as the founder of Beyond the Boroughs, a national scholarship fund for students with financial needs. In addition to his day-to-day with the fund, Reyes co-hosts the Behind The Mask Podcast with former first round NFL Draft pick and two-time Pro Bowl linebacker and fellow Miami University M.B.A. Takeo Spikes.
The show features many other pro-athletes and celebrities discussing a range of topics such as fatherhood, relationships, business, social issues and untold personal stories.
One of the duo’s recent guests brings close ties to both Spikes and Reyes, as a former first-round linebacker from Ole Miss. Patrick Willis, the 2006 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, two-time All-American, five-time first-team All-Pro, seven-time Pro Bowl is a future NFL Hall of Fame linebacker and laid the hammer over his eight-year career with the 49ers.
He joined the Behind The Mask Podcast to discuss his career, his approach to the game and life beyond football. When asked to look back on the first moment where he had a play and realized he was in the NFL, Willis told the story of his first very first play in the league.
“It was my first training camp,” said Willis. “It was a toss with a g-pull (when the offensive line blocks down on the front side of a play and then pulls around the edge), and I wasn’t familiar with a g-pull [...] I saw this big dude pull and I thought ‘I’m young and I’m fast’ so I could put a move on him. Man, I went to do all that and next thing I knew I felt like I left my body. I felt myself realize ‘holy shit’ and [...] I felt like a tornado. Everything hit at the same time on my very first play. That wasn’t supposed to happen like that, I was the first round pick [...] and all I could think was ‘man what have I gotten myself into’ and I knew I had work to do.”
He also talked about Ed Orgeron, his head coach at Ole Miss, and how later that same first day of training camp, the idea of a walkthrough was something he wasn’t familiar with.
“It was time for a special teams walkthrough, but didn’t really know what all that jog-through, walkthrough type of stuff was,” he said. “With Coach O it was always a grind, going going. Your walkthrough felt like you were already in practice. So, first play I take off, come through and blocked the punt. Andy Lee (the punter) was yelling at me like ‘hey rookie, what are you doing?!’ and I was just laughing like ‘oh man, they can just send me home.’”
To hear Willis and Reyes reminisce about their time at Ole Miss and watch the rest of the interview with one of the NFL’s two best linebackers, watch here:
Find the rest of Tutan and Takeo’s Behind The Mask Podcast video archives on YouTube or listen on Spotify, Apple or Google Podcasts.