NASHVILLE — Mike Vrabel does his best to keep tabs on his son Tyler, who is a sophomore at Boston College and a member of Steve Addazio's football team.
The Tennessee Titans head coach and former Patriots great gets his intel via short-answer texts from his son, or from various social media sites at BC.
* You can send him a text in the morning,” Vrabel said of Tyler, * and eight hours later, he might text back three words.”
Hard to blame the younger Vrabel right now if he's not the best pen pal, even with dad. After all, he's preparing for a football season. And word is, after being a redshirt freshman last year, the son of the three-time Super Bowl champion linebacker could be the starting left tackle for Boston College this season.
* Let's hope (he's the starter), that's what he's working for,” Vrabel said. * And if it happens, I'd be extremely proud of him, and I'd be extremely proud especially where he came from.”
Sitting with his wife, Jen, in a conference room at the Saint Thomas Sports Park, where the Patriots and Titans held their joint practices, Vrabel explained how Tyler was moved from Columbus, Ohio, after his eighth-grade year, started in a new high school and struggled.
* It wasn't the right school for him. That was my fault,” Vrabel told the Herald. * Then, by the grace of God, he ended up at St. Pius (in Houston), a co-ed Catholic high school, which was a much better fit for him.”
Tyler Vrabel, who is 6-foot-4, 255 pounds, had never played offensive line until attending St. Pius X. It was trial by fire.
* The coach said, ‘Spring ball starts Monday, you're our starting left tackle,' ” Vrabel explained. * (Tyler) said, ‘Well, I've never played O-line.' And the coach said, ‘Well, you are now.' ”
To help his son adjust to the position, Vrabel, who was working with the Texans at that time, would bring Tyler in to work on occasion and have him spend time with Houston's offensive line coach, along with lineman David Quessenberry, now a member of the Titans. The extra work paid off for Tyler, even though as Vrabel pointed out, he was * under-recruited.”
Tyler Vrabel ultimately wound up with scholarship offers from Cincinnati, Memphis, Houston and Boston College.
* My wife flew up (to BC) with him. He met with (Addazio) for lunch after working out in the morning,” Vrabel said. * She called and said they just offered him (a scholarship). I was like, ‘Wow.' They went to the Red Sox game that night, came back, and gave it some thought for a few weeks.”
While Luke Fickell, one of Vrabel's best friends, is the head coach at Cincinnati, Tyler ultimately chose BC, a school known for producing NFL offensive linemen. Addazio previously had spent six seasons as an offensive line coach at Florida.
* (Tyler) decided BC was a better fit for him,” Vrabel said. * He wanted to get away. I think that locker room and that atmosphere reminded him of St. Pius. The majority of the kids on that team went to a Catholic high school. It's a diverse locker room, a lot like St. Pius was. So I think that reminded him of what his high school locker room looked like.”
The Vrabel family will be at the Eagles' first game against Virginia Tech in two weeks in Chestnut Hill. That comes right after the Titans' fourth preseason game. The Titans coach will be able to get up and back for that, as well as a road game with Rutgers in September that follows a Thursday night game for the Titans.
* Those are the only two I know I can get to,” Vrabel said. * Clemson, Notre Dame, Louisville . . . the road games are easier for (Jen) because they're closer to Nashville, than going to Boston. But it'll be fun. We're looking forward to it.”