So much so that he lost his temper midway through the season and walked away from practice after coach Gary Guthrie chewed him out publicly for showing up late.
Poole expected to get an apology from Guthrie after he threw his helmet and walked in protest to the locker room.
The only thing Guthrie gave him was a dismissal from the team.
“When that situation happened, it made me realize that opportunities come maybe once, and you’re lucky if you get a second opportunity,” Poole said. “It also made me realize that the talent that I had should be cherished. A lot of people don’t have the opportunity to run and jump or even wake up and do things that they like.”
Not only did Poole learn a tough life lesson from not being allowed to finish his high school career — which seriously hurt his chances of being recruited — but it was also the launching pad of a journey to the NFL.
The 5-foot-9, 188-pound Poole overcame the inexperience of having played for a small college at Fort Valley State and emerged into a successful cornerback who won two Super Bowl rings with the New England Patriots.
Up-and-coming players are expecting to learn a few things from Poole next Saturday when he hosts a camp at Walton High School’s Raider Valley.
From 8 a.m.-1 p.m., Poole will teach middle- and high-school defensive backs pass coverage and how to provide run support once the pass threat is gone. He will also discuss in-game communication, pass-strength formation and how to make adjustments to offensive motion and formation changes.
But taking one’s game to the next level isn’t the only thing Poole’s camp is focusing on.
“It will teach the kids character,” said Poole, whose son, Nakai, was the starting punter for Walton’s 2011 state runner-up team. “Colleges are hiring character coaches. These camps, including my own, we take so much time building a machine that no one tells athlete how to handle the machines once they get built. My purpose at my camp is not to teach them how to be faster, but teach them how to turn it on and off.”
Poole went on to become a two-sport star in football and track at Fort Valley State, located 25 miles south of Macon. As a cornerback on the football team, he made 41 career starts and had 17 career interceptions. In track, he set the school record in the 200-meter dash and took second in the NCAA Division II national championships.
Poole said playing two sports at college helped him get noticed. He was invited to the Senior Bowl and the NFL combine — the latter of which where he caught the most attention — and he was selected by the Carolina Panthers with the 22nd overall pick of the 1995 draft.
Another advantage for Poole en route to the NFL was that he had the speed and knowledge to be a proficient man-to-man cornerback. Poole said being man-to-man corner was more difficult to teach.
He went on to play for the Indianapolis Colts and the Denver Broncos before his stint with the Patriots, where he was part of Super Bowl-winning teams in 2004 and ’05.
“He’s a good man and does a great job with his camp,” Walton coach Rocky Hidalgo said. “Anyone who comes to his camp will learn a lot of stuff when they spend some time with a guy who knows what he’s talking about.”
Entry into the camp is $55 before April 23 and $65 the day of. More information can be found online at www.tyronepoole.com.
Since retiring from football in 2008, Poole has worn many hats. He’s a motivational speaker, author and personal trainer, as well as a designer and manufacturer of sports equipment.