UCLA free safety Tony Dye surveys the field while on defense. Courtesy of US Presswire.
After spending the 2012 NFL season on the Reserve/Injured list, former UCLA safety Tony Dye is looking to not only earn a roster spot with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2013, but also hopes to make an impact on a defense that is regarded as one of the league’s best units. Dye opened training camp with the Bengals last year and played in the preseason, but was placed on the Reserve/Injured list on August 31 due to an ankle injury suffered against. the New York Jets.
His best collegiate season at UCLA came as a junior, when Dye started all 12 games at strong safety and led team in tackles (96) and pass breakups (nine), with one interception.
During his senior campaign in 2011, Dye was named to preseason watch lists for the Lott IMPACT Trophy, Bronko Nagurski Award, Bednarik Award and Thorpe Award, but battled neck and ankle injuries that limited him to seven games with five starts, and finished his final season with just 15 tackles and went undrafted, but the Bengals quickly scooped him up and signed him to a priority free agent contract.
In all, Dye played four seasons at UCLA (2008-11), amassing 207 tackles with one interception. He took time recently to give us an interview and talk about life in the NFL:
SH: What has it been like in your first year in the NFL?
"It has definitely been quite the experience. A roller coaster of emotions no doubt especially after doing so well to start camp and then getting injured. The vets really helped me out with the mental aspect of the game and it was good for me to observe the older guys work in what was essentially my redshirt year in the NFL. Amazing experience."
SH: After you went undrafted, how quick were the Bengals to call you and sign you?
"The second the draft ended teams were calling left and right with contract offers but Coach Lewis called personally and that made a huge impact on me. I’m grateful for the opportunity"
SH: What was it like spending your first season on the Reserve list?
"I was put on the IR list after I got injured in the preseason. Frustrating because I felt I could’ve made an impact."
SH: What have the coaches said are there expectations for you this year and what are your personal expectations?
"Last year, I was kind of a tweener between cornerback and safety, but this year they said they’d like me to focus on safety and get a chance to compete for the open spot. Personally, I’d like to make an impact in any way even if that means I’m on speciual teams with a limited defensive role. It’s important to me to make an impact and not be just a guy with a jersey on out there"
SH: What players and/or coaches have helped your transition to the NFL the most?
"So many people have helped but the most notable is Terrance Newman. He took me under his wing and does a great job pushing me to my limits. I definitely try to model my game and demeanor after him."
SH: thank you for your time Tony, and good luck this weekend.
"Thanks, I appreciate it!"