SUNBURY — Sunbury native Tyler Pratt is making a name for himself in the National Football League and especially with the Buffalo Bills.
Pratt, 28, a 2012 Shikellamy High School graduate, who is now living in North Carolina, has continued to climb through the ranks in the Buffalo Bills organization. He was recently promoted to scout.
Pratt started with the Bills as a training camp intern in 2016 after graduating from Kutztown University.
Pratt first came home after he graduated and began to substitute teach at Shikellamy but said he always wanted to live his dream of working in the NFL.
“I was with the Bills in 2016 and then they called me back in 2017,” Pratt said. “I was excited and grateful.”
In 2018 Pratt again was promoted when he was offered the job as a player personnel coordinator after two years as an intern, building off a foundation laid during his time in the Valley.
Before Pratt, known to his friends and family as “TP,” was mingling with NFL stars, he was a hometown star himself playing quarterback, cornerback and receiver for the Shikellamy Braves football team. Pratt also is the last Shikellamy boys basketball player to score 1,000 career points. He achieved the milestone during his senior year.
From there, Pratt went on to Kutztown University where he played safety. He started in 13 games over three seasons with six career interceptions. He led the Golden Bears with three interceptions in 2015.
A sports management major, Pratt excelled off the field as well, earning Dean’s List honors three times, was a four-time PSAC Scholar-Athlete and earned three Division II Athletic Directors Association Academic Achievement awards.
While at Kutztown, Pratt met Cody Kelso, the son of former Buffalo Bills safety Mark Kelso, who recommended the Bills take a look at Pratt.
Mark Kelso, who appeared in four consecutive Super Bowls with the Bills, said he met Pratt and knew right away Pratt was going places.
“I got to know him (Pratt). He played alongside my son and I saw he was very detailed, loves the game of football, loves being around the game and being able to communicate with others,” Kelso said of Pratt.
“He is authentic and he would sleep in the Bills facility if they let him.”
Pratt said he loved living in Orchard Park, where the Bills play their home games, and loved being at the stadium.
“There is no better place to be,” he said.
Pratt remained in Orchard Park during the 2020 COVID-19 season and said it was an experience like no other.
“There were so many restrictions and only a certain amount of people allowed in the building,” he said. “There was testing every morning, everyone was six feet apart and the whole facility had to change. It was basically a group effort with all hands on deck to help.”
Pratt said he went to games and seeing no fans in attendance was also a unique experience.
“It was weird,” he said. “It was something you would never expect to see but once the game got going it started to feel normal.”
Pratt said a lot of positives came out of the 2020 season.
“Everything about how we did our jobs changed,” he said. “From all the Zoom meetings to how we communicated was all different and made us more efficient.”
After the 2020 season, Pratt got sent to live in Arizona and started his scouting career.
From there Pratt was promoted to scout talent in North Carolina.
Pratt said he loves the Bills, the people he works with and Bills owner Terry Pegula.
“He (Pegula) is one of the nicest guys in the building,” Pratt said. “We talk Pennsylvania football and he knows where Sunbury is so it’s cool to have a guy like that who knows our area stand and talk with me. I can’t even begin to tell you how honored and how lucky I am to have so many great people around me.”
Pratts’s new job includes meeting with college teams and talking about players, he said.
“I love it down here and football is life here so I fit right in,” Pratt said.
But make no mistake, Pratt stays in contact with the front office, and even Bills head coach Sean McDermott
“We’ve got a cool group of coaches and they will just pick up and call or I can call,” he said. “If someone shoots a text it is responded to immediately.”
Pratt said he will visit the Valley on occasion when he can and stops in to see his old teachers or coaches and offers younger athletes advice.
“I always say I didn’t expect any of this, but I knew I always wanted it,” he said. “I knew I wanted to work in football and whether it be a scout or a coach, growing up you think the NFL is a far-fetched dream and joke about how cool it would be to work in the NFL. I am seeing my dreams come true thanks to the Bills.”
Pratt’s mother, Christy Krieger, a Shikellamy High School teacher, said she couldn’t be prouder of her son.
“We are all extremely proud of Tyler,” she said. “From the time he was little and began playing sports we loved watching him and cheering him on. Now we are still able to root for his team every time the Bills play. He has worked hard to get where he is and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for him.”
Pratt said he tells younger athletes to continue to pursue their dream.
“Chip away at it,” he said. “Keep chipping away. The one thing I say all the time is to start as early as you can by playing, working around the game, or doing whatever you can to keep building that resume in football. It seems like a big industry but it’s a small group of people and everyone knows everyone.”
Pratt said he loves the saying “Where else would you rather be than right here, right now,” made famous by former Bills head coach Marv Levy.
“I owe the Buffalo Bills,” Pratt said. “They gave me a shot at my dreams and I hope I make them as proud as I can and I hope I was worth it.”