Tyler Hibbler brings coaching expertise, talent and lessons from his father to Missouri

Derrick Hibbler, a former defensive player himself, coached his son for almost a decade.

Tyler Hibbler loves superheroes.

From Batman to Captain America, the young football star from St. Louis admires how these fictional characters can not only entertain but inspire athletes to triumph in their respective sports.

“[Superheroes] have the ability to do stuff everybody else can’t do,” Tyler Hibbler said. “Whether it’s the ability to fly or invisibility.”

Tyler Hibbler’s father, Derrick Hibbler, doesn’t possess X-ray vision or have the capability to teleport. However, Tyler Hibbler considers his father his superhero — a bond that’s unmeasurable.

“That’s my dude, we could do anything together,” Tyler Hibbler said. “When I started playing football when I was 10-years-old, we could hit the road and talk about football for hours.”

Their shared passion for football is palpable: knowing every player’s name, their position, if they were injured and when they’d return. Football earned Tyler Hibbler a scholarship at Missouri, but it also symbolizes Tyler and Derrick Hibbler’s bond.

Tyler Hibbler's knowledge of the game runs deep, thanks in large part to Derrick Hibbler. He’s a former football player, who committed to Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana as a medical student.

Derrick Hibbler bounced between colleges before heading home to Missouri to play football. He has several connections to high-end training and is a member of the coaching staff at Tyler Hibbler’s high school, Trinity Catholic.

In 2012, Derrick Hibbler began coaching Tyler Hibbler and Tyler Macon, a three-star dual quarterback from East St. Louis, Illinois, at the Mathews-Dickey Boys’ and Girls’ Club. The Missouri recruiting pipeline goes further back with Tyler Hibbler and Mekhi Wingo, a three-star prospect from St. Louis, competing on the same St. Louis Junior Football League team, the Hurricanes. Both Wingo and Macon are part of the Missouri recruiting 2021 class, too.

“Our team wasn’t the best, but [Tyler and I] competed hard at a young age,” Wingo said. “We also became close and even our parents built relationships.”

Tyler Hibbler and Wingo also work out together three times a week, further building a brotherhood off the field.

“It’s cool to just continue building off the field before we head up to Mizzou,” Wingo said.

When the three-star safety committed to Missouri, coach Eli Drinkwitz recruited a defensive mind with coaching expertise, but not the kind fans would expect after the recent hiring of defensive coordinator Steve Wilks.

Tyler Hibbler launched his coaching career as a freshman at the Mathews-Dickey Boys’ and Girls’ Club. He coached the receivers as a freshman, became the offensive coordinator as a sophomore, became the defensive coordinator as a junior and the defensive backs coach as a senior.

After his high school practices at Trinity concluded, Derrick and Tyler Hibbler often drove into the city and joined up with their youth league team.

“I was just sitting in the car bored,” Tyler Hibbler said. “I didn’t have anything to do after practice, so I thought I would help out with the kids.”

It wasn’t long before Tyler caught the coaching bug.

“When I started to coach, the kids didn’t know much,” Tyler Hibbler said. “But [as we practiced more], the amount of progress we made was unbelievable. I’m just sad I have to leave them.”

Tyler Hibbler applied his knowledge and experience at the position to mold the team’s three cornerbacks and four safeties into extraordinary defenders. He accomplished this by teaching them high school techniques like baiting the quarterback, which translated as 10 interceptions forced by the secondary, compared to the zero interceptions the season before.

“When I first started teaching the drills to [the young athletes], they could barely step or get out of the breaks,” Tyler Hibbler said. “But as time went on, they were exploding out of breaks, and it was creating interceptions for them.”

Tyler Hibbler deduces that being an active football player helps the youth players imitate the drills and grasp the concept of it.

“A coach says this is the way it’s supposed to go, or this is the way it’s supposed to work, but you don’t see him on the field doing the [drill],” Tyler Hibbler said. “Because I’m a player, [the kids] see me doing the [drill] and they can relate to that.”

Tyler Hibbler credits his success as a coach to connecting with the youth athletes on and off the field. He frequently chatted with his players about shoes and music trends.

“When I would come to practice in one of the latest pairs of shoes, [the team and I] would talk about if they looked nice and [the team] would tell me if [the players] were going to get them as well,” Tyler Hibbler said.

Coaching the youth team allowed Tyler Hibbler to better communicate with his coaches at Trinity. He realizes calling plays from the sideline is not the same as having his view at safety, but the football IQ that he brings to Missouri could be valuable for the back end of Steve Wilk’s defense.

“Coaching is a whole different world,” Tyler Hibbler said. “When I get back to the sideline, I can break it down with the coaches and my teammates, and it brings our skillset to a whole new level.”

Tyler Hibbler’s ability to wreak havoc prompted him to compare himself to Seattle Seahawks safety Jamal Adams. On the field, the St. Louis native always tries to give the quarterback second thoughts about his defensive alignment. Some plays he stays deep in coverage, some he’s creeping up toward the line of scrimmage, some he’s in between the two.

“[The offense] isn’t even thinking on the same level as me,” Tyler Hibbler said. “I know what play they’re going to do before they even execute it.”

Another reason why he tends to be a step ahead of the offense may be because his father is on the executive board for Explosion Sports West Foundation, a foundation aimed to coach the whole athlete anchored in the pillars of athletics, academics, life skills, college visits and community service.

“Greg Wayne [President of Explosion Sports West Foundation] took Tyler in when he was in seventh grade,” Derrick Hibbler said. “He’s pumped every ounce of knowledge he has into him.”

Tyler Hibbler ranked in the top 20 safeties in the state of Missouri. Wayne’s knowledge, watching hours of film and reading in-depth about cornerback, safety and linebacker elevated his status.

But Tyler Hibbler made it clear: without his father’s help in several areas, he couldn’t envision his football career at the D-1 level.

“My dad is my biggest supporter,” Tyler Hibbler said. “[Derrick Hibbler] taught me so much, he took me everywhere where I needed to be, he got me top-of-the-line training, he was [onboard].”

An involved father like Derrick Hibbler promotes inner growth, strength and self-confidence in his son.

“[Tyler Hibbler] knows I’m going to put him in a situation where I’m going to over examine the situation first,” Derrick Hibbler said. “Then I’m going to give him the best option on how he can move forward.”

Derrick Hibbler’s own Missouri football career was short-lived because of an admitted lack of focus that stemmed from his parents, who weren't as aware of the impacts of a collegiate athletic scholarship.

“My parents never attended college, so they didn’t have a clue how football could get you there,” Derrick Hibbler said. “They supported me as much as they could, but [my parents] didn’t have the resources or the knowledge to support me.”

While he couldn’t fulfill his dream of playing football for a sustained amount of time, it didn’t prevent him from developing his son into an impactful athlete. Tyler Hibbler knew his father would always be in his corner.

“A dad should show his son to watch the potholes in life,” Derrick Hibbler. “A father-son bond is all about support and guidance like, if you do this, it leads you down this road.,”

Edited by Jack Soble | jsoble@themaneater.com

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