GREEN BAY – Ty Summers doesn’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about it.
“It” is what his future might have been had he stuck with the quarterback position. He was a star dual-threat QB in high school in San Antonio who had offers from Rice, Ivy League schools, and the military academies.
Not exactly QB hotbeds, but Harvard’s Ryan Fitzpatrick has carved out a nice NFL career for himself under center, so who knows? But Summers has faith in, well, his faith, and if switching to linebacker and heading to TCU was “all part of a plan,” he wasn’t about to question it.
“I would have played really well in college, and I probably would have had an opportunity, maybe as a free agent kind of thing, just because I would have found a way to be successful,” Summers said of playing quarterback. “I was a gamer. I had fun doing it, and I made plays. But ultimately it wouldn’t have taken me here.”
“Here” is Green Bay as a seventh-round draft pick at inside linebacker with the speed, athleticism and smarts to potentially help turn around the Packers’ special teams in 2019.
Summers won’t get ahead of things or sell himself short, but with Blake Martinez entrenched as a defensive leader, 2018 third-round pick Oren Burks viewed as a player on the rise, and multiple safeties working as hybrid inside linebackers in coordinator Mike Pettine’s defense, he knows realistically that special teams provide him his best chance to make a strong first impression.
“Oh yeah, that’s going to be a staple,” he said. “I’m going to capitalize on that for sure.”
Summers began his college career on all of TCU’s coverage and return units, but he became a starter on defense midway through his redshirt freshman season, so his snaps on special teams diminished from there.
To his credit, he made an early impact on defense for the Horned Frogs because he was able to switch sides of the ball so seamlessly and successfully. He brought his QB mind to every aspect of the change, whether it was understanding route concepts in pass coverage or seeing the hole the running back was supposed to hit in the ground game.
Working with multiple coaches, he took every challenge head-on, from learning a whole new playbook to chasing the ball and making tackles for the first time since playing some safety as a sophomore in high school.
“I had a pretty physical mindset as a quarterback,” he said. “If you were to see any of my film, I ran for 36 touchdowns, almost 2,000 yards. I was a really physical guy. So that mentality didn’t change.
“It’s one of the toughest situations I could possibly be in scheme-wise. So it was a really good experience, getting thrown into the fire a little bit, and I appreciate it because it forced me to have to think on the fly. If I wanted to play, which I did, I had to put forth the time.”
His 23 tackles in a double-overtime win over Baylor in 2015 – the most by a Big 12 Conference player in at least 15 years – put him on the map as a redshirt freshman and his duties only grew from there.
Over 50 games and 32 starts, Summers finished his career with 318 tackles, second most by a TCU player in head coach Gary Patterson’s 18-year tenure. Whatever the 6-foot-1, 241-pound linebacker was asked to do, he found a way to do it.
“I had responsibilities to play the vertical on the No. 2 receiver and also play the B gap for the run every single play,” he said. “So I had a lot I had to do, and that’s why I appreciate my time at TCU, because I had to learn to have multiple responsibilities on one play, and I was forced to execute it to perfection, otherwise I wasn’t going to play. So it was a good atmosphere to grow in.”
He sees his growth as a player only continuing as he dives into Pettine’s playbook and learns special teams coordinator Shawn Mennenga’s schemes as well. He’s a classic late-round pick, lacking the All-America or first-team all-conference accolades but possessing combine testing numbers that jump out (4.51-second 40-yard dash, 27 bench-press reps) and a wealth of playing experience to draw upon.
As such, he doesn’t regret taking up TCU on its offer to play linebacker for a defensive guru like Patterson and relegating his quarterback days to fun, helpful memories. Calling himself “a big faith guy,” he’s on the path he’s supposed to be.
“I feel like God saw my future, so I knew that ultimately whenever I had the position change, it was something that was necessary and was going to work out in the end,” Summers said. “So I just put the pedal to the metal and gave it all I had, and ultimately it got me this opportunity.”