Thursday was going to be a long night. Andrea Tryon knew her son wasn’t going very early in the NFL draft.
As names flew off the board, about 15 people invited to her house in Newcastle, Wash., were too busy eating and socializing. They didn’t notice until more than half the first round was over.
“Then you sit down and start watching each pick and time seems to just stop,” she said. “You’re like, ‘Oh my God. They didn’t call his name. And they didn’t call his name.’ It’s one after the next.”
But the Super Bowl champions still were looming. And Andrea was hearing plenty about the Bucs. Her son, Washington edge rusher Joe Tryon, wanted to go to Tampa; he repeated it over and over.
Andrea was picking up and the guests had agreed to simply return Friday. That’s when she noticed her 6-foot-5, 259-pound son had folded his head down toward his knees, shielding his face.
“His head kind of went down and I looked over at him and I’m wondering, ‘Is he sad? What’s going on?’ ” Andrea said. “And then I see the phone in his hand and I’m like, ‘No.’ Then you hear the words, ‘Hey Coach!’ We all lost it.”
When you think about the NFL draft, you see elite athletes who have excelled in college football living out their dreams and preparing for fame, if not generational fortune.
What you don’t see is the hard work. You don’t think about the hours, days, months and years of driving to and from practices.
In Joe’s case, you don’t see a single mother working 12- to 14-hour days doing closings at a mortgage company, raising two children only 16 months apart.
“It’s always just been the three of us,” Andrea said. “Always. The dad left the situation when Joe was 1.”
Joe was a bundle of energy from the time he was born. His older sister, Julia, was forced many times to go along for the ride. Before his fifth birthday, Andrea got him involved in tae kwon do.
“He stuck with that for about five or six years, which really gave him the fundamentals of moving his body and his body control,” she said. “That was his introduction to sports. And my daughter ... I was like, ‘If he’s doing it, you’re doing it, too.’ ”
Joe was a skinny kid who played football, basketball and baseball at Hazen High School in Renton, Wash., where the Seahawks train. But he had three football coaches and mostly losing seasons during his four years there.
Joe wanted to transfer.
“When I was a child, I went to four elementary schools and four different high schools because my father was a contractor and we moved around a lot,” Andrea said. “So I don’t have childhood friends. When I had these two kids, I was like, ‘You guys are staying in the same school district 1-12. We’re not moving around.”
He stuck it out, and by his senior year, some colleges were showing interest. But he had to work to get on the radar. It took lots of summer football camps before Washington took notice.
“When we recruited him, he wasn’t one of those guys on everyone’s radar,” said Washington head coach and former Bucs assistant Jimmy Lake. “He was a tall, skinnier young man but you could see he had potential. Then he became a (Husky) and the work ethic just speaks for itself what he was able to do. He comes out of the weight room a lot stronger, more muscle on him and more pounds on him. He’s learning the techniques and every single year you saw him improve.
“In 2019, he was even stronger, and you saw the confidence in every game we played. He finished so strong down the stretch.”
As a redshirt sophomore in 2019, Tryon posted eight sacks and 12½ tackles for loss in 13 games.
When the fall rolled around, the Pac-12 announced it was canceling the season due to the pandemic. Then the conference reconsidered and planned an abbreviated slate.
By then, Joe had moved to California and was well into his training for the NFL draft.
“It just wasn’t a good option for him to come back into college at that point,” Andrea said. “One of his teammates who he is close to wanted to play four games and he was out two with COVID. It’s a crap shoot.”
Then came Thursday, which rolled into Joe’s 22nd birthday early Friday morning before the Bucs drafted him.
Joe isn’t the only one moving on to bigger things. Julia, who earned an academic scholarship to Washington, graduated with degrees in biology and Spanish. She has been accepted to medical school at Rush University in Chicago.
Joe has volunteered to pay off whatever student debt she may accrue.
“I’m like busting at the seams,” Andrea said. “It’s just kind of overwhelming. It’s been a long time coming because they both have worked so hard. It wasn’t easy, but they did it and they just kept persevering and pushing through and doing what they had to do. So, yeah, I’m very proud of both of them.”
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