Former Raider gets shot with Broncos

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Feature photo courtesy of the Aurora Sentinel: John Tidwell leads the Raiders onto the field before a game. Tidwell signed a contract with the Broncos on Saturday.

By Sebastian Wiegand, Sports Editor

For the stars of Division I football, the NFL Draft is a time to shine. For the stars of Division II football, however, after the draft is where they receive their chance to prove their worth. 2011 Rangeview High School graduate John Tidwell is one of those stars looking for a chance to prove himself.

Following the culmination of the Draft Saturday afternoon, the Denver Broncos contacted Tidwell’s agent and offered him a contract, which he signed.

None of this however, would have been possible without Rangeview, Tidwell said. Tidwell credits former football coach Dave Gonzales with pushing him to the next level.

“He’s the one who really made me stick it out,” Tidwell said in an interview with the Review Sunday afternoon. “He made me realize that I really love football.”

According to Tidwell, some comments were made by another coach about him being undersized and that he wouldn’t ever make varsity.  Tidwell put it in his mind to quit. Gonzales would have none of it as he wound up convincing Tidwell to stay in football. That would turn out to be one of the best decisions Tidwell would ever make.

“I had a good conversation with him, and I told him you aren’t the kind of person that quits,” said Gonzales. “He took it to heart, and hung in there.”

Tidwell graduated from Rangeview in 2011 and was part of the best football team Rangeview has ever seen. During his senior season in 2010 Tidwell, along with Gatorade Player of the Year, Jaleel Awini — now at CU — and other outstanding athletes such as Jon Mathews — now at CSU-Pueblo — led the Raiders to an 11-1 record and to the quarterfinals of the state playoffs.

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Jon Mathews holds John Tidwell During their senior year. Both would go on to play football at the next level. (Rangeview Review file photo)

During that season Tidwell intercepted eight passes and caught 11 touchdown passes. Tidwell’s performance was good enough to get him named to the 2011 All-Colorado football team by CHSAA.  During his senior year he was also a member of the boys basketball team that went 22-4 and made it all the way to the Great Eight. Tidwell managed to stand out in baseball as well, as he was the shortstop for the boys varsity baseball team which pulled off a 15-6 record. However, the baseball team ended up losing to eventual state champion Regis Jesuit 10-1 in the first round of the playoffs.

“He always took the role to be a leader,” said progress monitor Enrique Gonzalez, who went to high school with Tidwell. “He would lead by example.”

Following his senior season at Rangeview, Tidwell committed to play football for the Division II University of Sioux Falls Cougars, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  Tidwell redshirted for the 2011 season at USF before bursting onto the scene as a redshirt freshman in 2012.  During his Freshman campaign he totaled three interceptions, while breaking up 10 more passes, a punt return for a touchdown and 62 total tackles while starting all 11 of the team’s games. His sophomore season told more of the same story.  Tidwell intercepted two more passes and once again broke up ten more while getting 56 tackles.  

His Junior season was statistically his best season for the Cougars.  He totaled four interceptions, broke up 19 passes, returned two punts for touchdowns, and piled up 60 tackles, while once again starting all 12 of the games for the Cougars.  Tidwell’s stellar play for the 2014 season earned him All-American honorable mention honors. During his senior season, Tidwell was bothered by an injury which caused him to miss the first game of his college career. Despite the injury, he still managed three interceptions and six passes defended and led his team to the playoffs.

“He’s always been good at everything,” said Tidwell’s neighbor and friend, junior Eric Burke. “I knew he would come out on top.”

Being a star on the field didn’t mean he wasn’t a star in the classroom as well as he finished his double major in public accountancy and business administration at the end of the winter semester with a 3.73 GPA. Tidwell was also a two-time Academic All-American.

Tidwell will report to camp sometime next week as he will tasked with making the 53-man roster. If he makes the roster he will be joining an exclusive club, as very few Rangeview athletes have made it professional.