By WILLIAM PAINE
For The Patriot
“He is an uber talented young man who is just breaking on the scene right now,” declared Mark Dixon, Head Coach of the Pulaski Cougars. “People are starting to see all the things he can do on a football field and that’s probably happened in the last three or four weeks. He’s just a tremendously skilled young man.”
The name of this high school football phenom is John Lyman and fans of Pulaski County High School football are already familiar with plays made by the Cougar who wears the number 4.
John Lyman is very good at catching passes, even if they’re meant for the opposing team’s wide receiver. He’s known to be a tough tackler and has shown a knack for finding the end zone.
Through the first five games of the season, John Lyman has reached the end zone eleven times; two by running, six by catching passes and one punt return. Lyman has made five interceptions and ran two of those back for touchdowns.
“John can do it all,” said Dixon. “He plays corner. He plays safety, tailback. He plays slot. He plays wide receiver. He’s multi-dimensional.”
“I pretty much play everything they want me to play so that I can be the best at whatever they need me to be”, said Lyman. “But I’m mainly receiver, safety, corner, sometimes running back and return specialist … I’m an athlete.”
John Lyman is originally from Jacksonville, Florida and moving to the hills of Western Virginia was a big change.
“When I first came up here, people talked a lot different,” said John. “But I think I’ve caught up with it now … but just the energy is different. It’s quiet, so I can focus more … less trouble and stuff like that.”
John Lyman began attending school here in Pulaski County in the 8th grade and though he did a stint playing basketball, he wasn’t much into sports.
He started playing football only last year, which was the first year that Mark Dixon took over as Head Coach at Pulaski County High School.
“He keeps you positive and helps you out with everything you need help with,” said Lyman of Dixon. “He’s a real genuine person. In a sense, it made me fall in love with the sport again. It was pretty cool.”
Coach Dixon is known, among other things, for his demanding early morning workouts and no-nonsense attitude during games.
“I think the intensity is perceived one way by the spectators, but the kids see it different because they’re with me all day long and we’re laughing and joking,” said Dixon. “It’s only those two hours where they see that real intense, get after it mindset.”
“We’ve got a great group of kids. I love them and think the world of them,” Dixon continued. “They work so hard and they want to be successful and all those intangibles … John has them in spades and some of them don’t have anything to do with football. He’s gregarious. He smiles, He’s open. He’s friendly. All of those things that are going to make him successful in life, that have nothing to do with football. He has all of that. He was raised right.”
That said, John Lyman is pretty good at football and track, too. Lyman did his part for the PCHS Track team, when they won the regionals last season. He competed in the 100 meter, 200 meter, 300 meter hurdles, the 400, the long jump and the triple jump. If there was a pole-vaulting competition, John Lyman would likely compete in that, too.
After football season, is he thinking about giving the track team another go?
“Yeah, big time,” Lyman said with a grin.
The PCHS track season is approaching but these days, it’s all about football.
So which does John Lyman prefer, offense or defense?
“I like the idea of being able to play any position,” said John. “On offense, my goal is to not let just one person tackle you. You can’t let just one person bring you down.”
“Defense is like offense flipped around,” he continued. “I just watch who’s in front of me and then make the play. If nobody else is around, you just got to hold on to them ‘till the ref gets there. We got three games left. We just got to go out and ball. Keep our heads up and keep wanting to play. That’s all we have to do.”
John Lyman is a senior and intends to continue his education, ideally with the assistance of an athletic scholarship.
“I want to find a school where I feel at home and can thrive on and off the field and be a part of the community,” said Lyman. “I just want to take advantage of the best offer that’s given to me.”
“He’s a big bang for your buck, in terms of playing for a college, because he can do so many different things,” said Dixon. “You’re talking a superior athlete and now the production is starting to match all that skill. In colleges you have to marry the two. Ok, he jumps high and runs fast and that’s wonderful, but now we need to see it on the field and now he’s put that out there. So he’s starting to check off all the boxes.”
Long term, John Lyman has plans to, “maybe go into business and open my own gym and help other athletes. I just want to provide
and take care of my family and have fun doing it.”
Family is important to John Lyman, who is formally known as John Lyman III. He spends much of his free time with his parents, John and Keitah, his sisters, Shai-Anne and Marjorie and Glennel, his baby brother.
“I hang out with my friends, my parents and my brothers and sisters and that’s pretty much it,” Lyman admitted. “I like it. We’re all pretty close.”
As we parted I asked if John had anything to add.
“Thanks for coming out,” he graciously responded. “Thanks to my parents. Thank God. I want to thank everybody in the school for helping out and thanks to my coaches in all sports. They’ve all helped me out a lot.”
Check out the video on John Lyman’s Facebook page showing some of his best plays this season as a Cougar football player.