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Missouri Class 6 football state championship spotlight: CBC's Gant displays multitude of talents

TOWN AND COUNTRY — CBC junior defensive lineman Tyler Gant understandably is excited to be playing in the Class 6 football state championship game.

The Cadets (12-1) face Liberty North (11-1) at 1 p.m. Saturday at Faurot Field in Columbia.

Yet the 6-foot-3, 265-pounder is just as thrilled with the opportunity to grab another state crown down the road.

Gant, whose NCAA Division I college football offers rank in double figures, also is a member CBC's robotics team. The state robotics championships will be held in March.

“Winning two state titles in the same year, how many people can say they did that?” Gant said.

Especially in two such diverse activities.

Gant is a wizard at chasing down quarterbacks and destroying running backs. He already has received scholarship offers from 14 NCAA Division I programs, including 11 from Power Five conferences.

Still, the hulking game-changer is just as comfortable sitting in front of a computer, designing and constructing robots for competition.

Gant caught the bug in the second grade and considers the activity to be an important part of his life.

“I’ve been doing robotics since before I did football,” Gant said. “It’s something I’m very passionate about.”

Robotics is a combination of computer science and engineering. It involves the use of robots to substitute and replace human action.

A strong robotics performer needs a keen eye along with the ability to adapt at a moment’s notice.

Sort of like a defensive lineman.

“Some of the skills are the same,” Gant said.

Gant made CBC's robotics team last season, although the majority of the competitions were canceled because of COVID-19 concerns.

This year, tournament play will begin next month and culminate with an unofficial state championship.

And Gant is planning ahead.

“I’m excited for it,” he said. “I’ll be ready.”

Gant is certainly ready on the football field. He has turned heads of college coaches around the country with an amazing breakout campaign.

“He plays hard, practices hard, does everything hard,” CBC senior defensive lineman Collin Bell. “He’s got nice size and he just keeps getting better.”

Gant saw limited action as a freshman and battled through a tough sophomore season last fall.

This year, he has blossomed into the player that CBC coach Scott Pingel knew he could become.

“His sophomore year was going to be big for him, but because of COVID and he got banged up a little, things kind of got delayed,” Pingel said. “We saw the progression and we knew he was eventually going to be special. You could see how big he was and how fast he could move.”

Gant has recorded 30 tackles along with 38 assists as a junior. He has become a force on defense despite drawing plenty of attention from opponents, who have yet to find a way to negate his size and strength.

“You look in his eyes and see he’s just hungry to make a big play,” CBC sophomore receiver Jeremiah McClellan said. “He’s got a great work ethic and it shows when he steps on the field.”

Gant flashed a portent of things to come with an eye-popping performance in the Cadets’ 48-44 season-opening loss to East St. Louis. He recorded 12 tackles along with one sack and one interception.

The Hazelwood resident has yet to slow down.

“He anticipates well and his technique is so strong," Pingel said.

Pingel is just as impressed with Gant’s off-field success out of the football realm.

“He’s a well-versed kid — into other things besides football,” Pingel said. “Not a me-me guy. You’ll never hear him talking about himself. He’s just very professional in the way he goes about his business.”

A straight-A student, Gant uses his intelligence in both of his two favorite endeavors. He fashioned a season-high seven tackles Sept. 24 in a 59-27 win over St. Louis University High.

Gant cherishes his robotics challenges, although he doesn’t necessarily share his passion with others.

Sophomore wide receiver/cornerback Jude Pingel, Scott's son, is on the robotics team with Gant. Other CBC teammates are not even aware of his engineering prowess.

“I don’t tell everybody,” Gant said. “It’s something that I do to make myself happy, not to tell others about it.”

Gant has handled the recruiting process with the utmost maturity. He visited the University of Wisconsin last weekend and took in the Badgers’ 35-28 win over Nebraska.

“College, it’s big decision, one I’m not taking lightly,” Gant said.

Thanks in part to Gant’s defensive skills, the Cadets have allowed a touchdown or less in five games this season. They head west on I-70 with plenty of momentum after posting a thrilling 28-21 comeback win over Lee’s Summit North in a semifinal contest.

“I’d say we’re confident,” Gant noted. “We’re feeling pretty good right now.”

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