Poly wide receiver Tyrese Chambers never gives up.
Whether he’s running a route, overcoming an injury or working with a new quarterback, the Engineers senior is all in.
After an injury-riddled junior year, Chambers has emerged as one of the Baltimore area’s top wideouts. He can make leaping catches in the end zone or shake defensive backs for long gains after catches across the middle. In five games, he has 28 receptions for 664 yards and 10 touchdowns, including game-winning catches against Tuscarora and Douglass. Last Friday, he caught seven passes for 134 yards and the only two touchdowns in a 32-14 loss to No. 11 Dunbar.
Poly coach Dwayne Green notes Chambers’ skill set and work ethic but has been most impressed with his tenacity.
“He has great ball skills and he goes after the ball almost like a basketball player,” Green said. “I think his ball skills are phenomenal and his overall knack for the game. It comes so easy for him, so he’s just an all-around solid player.”
That tenacity led Chambers to score the only touchdown in an 8-0 win over Douglass in the Baltimore City Division I opener for the Engineers (2-2) on Sept. 29.
Running down the right sideline, he kept tracking the ball as the two players trying to cover him apparently thought it was overthrown. Chambers raced between them at about the 10-yard line, lunged for the ball at the goal line and rolled through the back of the end zone with a 26-yard touchdown catch.
Johnny Witherspoon saw that same determination while coaching Chambers with the Rosedale Cowboys recreation team. As a 13-year old backup receiver on a team of older players, he caught the game-winning touchdown pass in the Atlantic Coast Youth Football League championship.
“He kept telling me, ‘Coach, I can do it.’ I put him in the game and he ended up winning it,” Witherspoon said. “He fits the wide receiver mentality. He loves the pressure. He embraces it. Tyrese definitely defines the word leader. He wants all the pressure. He wants to be that guy. Win or lose, he wants you to put it on his shoulders.”
At Tuscarora on Sept. 22, Chambers caught nine passes for 214 yards and four touchdowns, including one with six seconds left to secure a 32-30 win.
“That experience was amazing,” Chambers said, “because coming into that game, we knew we had to overcome a lot of obstacles. Tuscarora just got finished beating Milford Mill, which has some really good players. We went in there with confidence, because we knew it would be a big win for Baltimore City and losing could possibly keep us out of the playoffs, so we went in there with a big chip on our shoulders. I do not want to be home in November. We want to be in the playoffs.”
During that game, the Engineers lost their starting quarterback, DeVone Stubbs, to a separated shoulder, but Chambers had worked with senior backup Jermaine Harvey during the summer, so it wasn’t difficult for them to be in sync even with all the pressure to score in the final seconds.
Chambers trusted Harvey and asked the quarterback to trust him to make the plays even as he faced Tuscarora’s triple coverage.
To Chambers, playing wide receiver is all about being a game-changer.
“I feel like wide receiver is a hard position to play,” he said, “and I also feel that if you have a good wide receiver on your team, you can change the game. … You might not have a so-great team, but if you have that one wide receiver who can go up and get the ball, catch the ball and score and make plays, that can change the whole game, so I look at myself as a game changer and not just a player. I like to put the game in my hands.”
For someone who wants to lead the team on the field, Chambers wasn’t concerned with being a team captain. He voted for another player instead of himself, but Green said because of his ability, his voice carries a lot of weight with the Engineers.
Poly senior captain Steven Sutton agrees.
“Rese is a special teammate,” Sutton said. “He’s real motivating. Even on days when you can tell he’s not feeling it, he’ll bring that attitude that pushes the rest of the team.”
The Engineers certainly could have used his talents and leadership more last season, because they lost four of the five games he missed and finished 5-5. First an ankle injury sidelined him in the fourth game of the season. When he returned in Week 8, he suffered a broken collarbone.
Chambers has bounced back from injuries before. He started playing organized football because of injuries.
“I started playing when I was about 9, but I just used to play outside and I used to always hurt myself, so my mom said, ‘We’re going to get you signed up for football.’ There was a poster sticking in the ground outside my house, so she signed me up for that.”
That was the Gardenville Gators program. Then he moved to Rosedale until he began playing at Poly after transferring from Digital Harbor for his sophomore year.
Now, Green has no doubt Chambers can play Division I football. A little behind the curve because he missed so much time last year, he played 7-on-7 over the summer and went to camps at Maryland, Morgan State, Temple and Old Dominion. He also went to Nike Football’s The Opening Regional in Northern Virginia in April.
He recently received his first offer, from Morgan State, but Green believes more offers will come for Chambers, who has already qualified academically and plans to major in business and eventually give back to his family as well as his East Baltimore community.
While he is likely to be a wide receiver or a slot receiver in college, Chambers also plays defensive back and returns punts and kicks for the Engineers. He had an interception against Dunbar and comes off the field only for a few snaps on defense. That’s just fine with him.
“I live football. That’s my life. I love football. I’m definitely going to play football until it’s my time to stop, ’til I can’t do it no more,” said Chambers, adding that three things make him passionate about the sport — it takes his mind off any tribulations in his life, it’s a fun physical release and it offers a lot of opportunities.
“I’m playing for the love of the game. There’s nothing else like it. I watch college football and I see how much adversity people overcome. It’s just a feeling. It’s kind of hard to explain.”