Staff Photo: Brandon Brigman. Tyler Aurandt, a 2002 GAC grad, is in his first season as an assistant football coach at Grayson.
Tyler Aurandt, 27, was hired last month as the wing backs and tight end coach at Grayson. The 2002 Greater Atlanta Christian grad spent the last four years as an assistant coach at Division II power Valdosta State. Aurandt played receiver for the Blazers and won a national title as a player in 2004 and as a coach in 2007.
Aurandt received his bachelor's degree in finance and accounting in 2007 and his master's in public administration in 2009.
In this latest installment of "Getting to Know ...," Aurandt talks to staff writer Brandon Brigman about the transition from college to high school, his lone college touchdown and how to pronounce his last name.
BB: What made you want to go from college to high school coaching?
TA: It's something I've been thinking about for a few years now. I always liked high school football when I was playing it. I like college football, but I like the idea of being able to come home and spend time with my family when I get to that stage in my life. I thought this was a great opportunity and everything has just worked out. I felt like this was a great place to start.
BB: What's the biggest difference in the two?
TA: The amount of time you are allowed to spend with the kids during the summer is a lot different. You're not allowed to be around them in college. Where here, you can be around them everyday.
BB: You're coming from a predominately passing team in Valdosta to Grayson, which is known for running the ball. Has that been a weird transition?
TA: I'm obviously not gonna come in and try to change very much because they have been successful at everything they've done so far since they've been here. We've thrown some ideas out there that we think could possibly help out and open things up a little bit for the running game.
BB: You won a national title as a player and coach at Valdosta State. What was different about the two?
TA: The one as a player, I didn't ever win anything like that through high school, and it took a few years in college. That one was pretty special to me. Then the one as a coach, you see everything from a different perspective. They were different, but they both meant a lot.
BB: You caught one touchdown in your college career. Do you remember it vividly?
TA: I do. I try to forget it because we didn't win that game. After the game was over I said I don't want to catch another ball that's a touchdown if we're going to lose. I'd rather win the game.
BB: What happened in the game?
TA: Delta State. We were down by two touchdowns and I caught it to pull us within one. We had one more drive to go and it got intercepted. The defensive back made an incredible play and that was the end of the game right then.
BB: So you played Sean Calhoun, the passing game coordinator at Collins Hill, while at Valdosta State, right?
TA: I played wide receiver when he was playing quarterback, so me and him are real good friends. He's been very helpful through this whole process because obviously he came up here last year. He kind of told me what to expect. We talk probably every two or three days.
BB: How many different ways does your last name get butchered?
TA: Oh, I couldn't even tell you. Through tee ball playing all the way up to out in Arkansas when I was at VSU, you can't even imagine some of the different ways they pronounced it.
BB: Did your parents ever correct the announcers?
TA: They wouldn't, but my head coach would make sure to go say something after the game to whoever it was when we played on the road. It's funny because it will be sometimes that our radio broadcasters from Valdosta they wouldn't be able to get it out right because things happen so fast on the field. No hard feelings. I've learned to get over it. It doesn't really bother me a whole lot.
BB: So how do you pronounce it?
TA: Arent. Like A-R-E-N-T.
BB: People try to throw that D in there, don't they?
TA: I can't even tell you. You know when you are getting a telemarketer phone call as soon as you pick up the phone because they don't have a clue how to pronounce your name.
BB: Who was the best player you played against in high school?
TA: In high school? Oh, let's see. Lee Miles from Cartersville, who had opportunities to go to Clemson to play football and baseball, he was probably one of the best players. He had several Division I offers. I think he got drafted in baseball, but he was probably the best I went against just because I lined up against him every snap.
BB: Have you been able to enjoy your summer vacation or has it been all football?
TA: With this transition, I've spent a lot of time meeting people at the school. I've had a chance, my grandparents own a lake house on Hartwell, so I've had a chance to go up there a couple of times.
BB: Do you like to hang out on the boat or go fishing?
TA: Hang out on the boat or just lay out on a raft in the middle of the lake. Just relax.
BB: Do you get into tubing or skiing?
TA: I do ski. I try to stay away from the tube. I've had some pretty serious accidents on that. Your body, I've learned, you wake up too sore.
BB: What's been your worst accident?
TA: A couple of years ago, my cousin and I got flipped up in the air pretty hard and came down on our heads. We were going about 25 miles per hour. You come up and you laugh about it, but the next day you're like "that was a bad idea."
BB: As a coach, do you have any pregame rituals or superstitions?
TA: I've been known to be called superstitious. I try to keep the same routine. The players relax a little more when they know what's going on.
BB: Why do people call you superstitious?
TA: It's the exact same routine. I eat the same thing, what they hear in the pregame is going to be a lot of the same every week, there may be a little twist.
BB: What do you eat, anything special?
TA: It's funny you say that. With Coach (Chris) Hatcher, he's very superstitious and well organized. We always ate hamburgers, green beans, baked potato and a fruit cup. So while I was playing that's what it was. When I started coaching it kind of carried over. I would always find a way to get a hamburger and a baked potato before every game. It gets a little difficult when you have to play at 1 p.m. and you have to eat at 9 a.m. That was just something that was instilled in me while I was playing.
BB: How long do you see yourself here at Grayson?
TA: I have no set plans on how long. This is just a great opportunity. I hope that opportunity extends itself where I can be here for a long time. I definitely want to stay in high school at this point. I've had a couple of calls about going to be a (graduate assistant) at a few other schools and quickly turned those down. If this is what I'm going to do the rest of my life and what I'm looking for in a family, then this is the level I want to be at. Being around Coach (Mickey) Conn and these other guys that have had so much success here can really help me as a coach and as a person. I don't really have any set plans on where to go next year. I just want to be here as long as possible.