John Tidwell, defensive lineman, accumulated 213 tackles, 7.5 TFL’s (total yards from tackles), and defended 50 passes during his football career at the University of Sioux Falls. He is also one of nine USF football players named Academic All-NSIC for three conservative years and was the first USF student to earn first-team NSIC all-league honors. In addition, Tidwell was one of the league’s top return specialists (someone who specialize in returning kickoffs).
Statistics aside, Tidwell has poured hours of back-breaking work and dedication to become the person he is today. All his hard work may soon pay off, as Tidwell signed as a free agent with the Denver Broncos.
Originally from Aurora, Colorado, Tidwell has been playing football since elementary school. However, despite this, he almost quit playing football entirely once he reached high school.
“When I was a freshman, I was told I was too small to play football,” says Tidwell. [As] a sophomore, I went to my varsity head coach and said ‘I do not think I am going to play football, anymore, I just want to play baseball,’ but he actually made me stick it out.”
The shortest height defensive lineman who participated in the 2015 National Football League (NFL) combine was five foot, eleven inches. Tidwell comes in at about six foot tall.
Reflecting back on his high school and college career, Tidwell is glad he took his coaches advice. Tidwell says football has helped him become the person he is today. During the drafting process, character can help an individual stand out from the competition.
“I am a humble dude; I did not come from a background where [I] had everything handed to me. Being here at the University of Sioux Falls has really influenced that,” says Tidwell.
Overall, fellow teammates have had the greatest impact over Tidwell’s football career.
“The guys on the team really pushed me every day. One main [person] was probably Solomon St. Pierre,” says Tidwell. “We played five years together here and we would always push each other, not only on the field, but off the field as well.”
The NFL combine was held South Dakota State University (SDU). However, prior to the drafting process began, Tidwell spent three months training. In the long run, it was worth because he got the opportunity to fine tune some of his skills.
“I had to run the 40. There was a vertical jump, and a number of different tests that we had to go through,” says Tidwell.
After completing that training process, Tidwell was invited to Denver for a local pro-day. Shortly after, Tidwell began to receive phone calls from several professional teams who showed interest in his talent.
Then, an agent from the Denver Broncos, Tidwell’s home town team, contacted him. His initial reaction was of shock and awe.
“There was anxiety, there was stress [and] just a lot of mixed emotions with the whole process,” says Tidwell.
Despite the big news, has Tidwell tried to remain humble because plans can change quickly, especially in professional athletics.
While at USF Tidwell earned a bachelor’s degree in public accounting, as well as business administration. He has also been active in the community by serving at the Banquet and volunteering with local elementary schools.
“There is a job that I have lined up at Grand Thornton down in Minneapolis; it is a big accounting firm,” says Tidwell.
Tidwell will continue with a career in finance, if his hopes to play football to do work out as planned. However, for the time being, Tidwell has his sights set on the NFL.