TAMPA, Fla. — It’s been a decade since Chiefs wide receiver Byron Pringle laced up his cleats for the Robinson Senior High School Knights in Tampa.
Days before he plays in a Super Bowl for the Kansas City Chiefs in his hometown, FOX4 sat down to talk to his high school coaches, Craig Everhart and Tommy Montero.
“Seeing him go through our first group of wide receiver individual drills, it was just automatic,” Everhart, a former wide receiver coach and head coach at Robinson, recalled of Pringle’s talent.
“It was obvious that he had the motor skills and everything to do it, but it didn’t take more than a couple of days to realize he had the attitude and the work ethic to do it, more importantly.”
Montero, who was an assistant coach during Pringle’s high school years, remembers his physical growth along with his maturity.
“His growth physically his sophomore to senior year, I kind of joked that he looked like T.O. [Terrell Owens], his physical self,” Montero said. “I knew he was going to be D1 for sure. It’s hard to go NFL. He went and did his best of his chance at K-State, and now he’s doing his best of his opportunity with the Chiefs.”
Even with his success, Pringle has made an impact on his high school and community. He comes back to the school whenever he can to train with current players.
“It gives us, with our students and players, some support so that these kids can believe that what we’re saying will get them to a place, or to hopefully a college like Byron did,” Montero said.
“It gives us something to fall back on. They go, ‘Hey coach, what can I do to get better? I want to be where Byron is.’ Byron comes back and it’s like he didn’t leave. One of the guys smiling and laughing with us the whole time.”
“Byron comes out to summer workouts or pops in the weight room and he’s really just one of the guys,” Everhart said. “That’s what he’s been and when he was here, he was like that as well”
Pringle’s path to the NFL wasn’t easy. He was arrested in 2010 in connection to a string of crimes in Tampa.
Upon his return to Robinson, he was given a second chance by then-head coach Mike DePue.
Pringle continued his football career at Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kan. It took just one season before catching the attention of Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder.
“They do a good job of keeping kids in Kansas. I think Coach Snyder was a big part of that,” Everhart said. “He did have some other offers, but he’s a loyal guy. He’s always been really good about remembering who looked out for him, so that’s one of the things that kept him in that area.”
In two seasons as a Wildcat, Pringle hauled in 1,355 yards, 10 touchdowns and was a vital part of the return game.
He totaled 1,076 kick return yards and two touchdowns, earning him 2016 First Team All-Big 12 honors as a returner and an honorable mention for that award in 2017. He finished his K-State career with the second-most career yards per reception, 19.64.
“He’s a testament to second chances. The most important thing from what I’ve observed and gathered, he’s a tremendous father to his son,” Everhart said. “He hasn’t forgotten where he’s from. Our kids here look up to him, which is very special to us and that’s the main thing. He’s a tremendous human being.”
Pringle went undrafted in the 2018 draft but ended up signing a deal with the Kansas City Chiefs.
He suffered an injury in the preseason and did not play as a rookie, but began to make an impact on special teams, and as part of a star-studded receiving core in 2019.
“What he does on special teams is really awesome. I think last year, their first punt he ran down and made the first tackle and that’s big,” Everhart said. “I know as Patrick Mahomes continues, he’s got that contract, there’s a chance that hopefully Byron continues to move up the depth chart.”
Pringle joins Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman, Sammy Watkins and Demarcus Robinson as the receiving group for the Chiefs.
Hill has formed a relationship with Pringle and has been impressed with his work ethic with the receiver, special teams and scout team groups. He hopes he can continue to earn more chances.
“I was talking to [Chiefs wide receiver coach Greg Lewis] about that, I was like, ‘Man, y’all need to start giving Pringle some more chances,'” Hill said. “Here’s a guy, he doesn’t complain about his job, he comes in and works. Whatever you gotta tell him to do, he does it. He is still the same guy. He’s always laughing and he’s always smiling. You couldn’t ask more from a teammate”
Pringle became the first Robinson Senior High School alumnus to win a Super Bowl when the Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers in 2020.
“Last year was great! We all watched it,” Montero said. “I try to watch every game he is in and every game our former players are in. It brings a joy to watch them and watch them do well. This year he’s contributing a lot more.”
Fast forward to Feb. 7, 2021 and he will be suiting up to take the field at Raymond James Stadium, eight miles from Robinson Senior High School. This time, playing for the away team.
“I’m a Bucs fan. I was here when they started in ’76 and have been to a bunch of games,” Montero said. “But I’m a Byron Pringle fan!”
“We’re rooting for Byron to do well and have a great game. I just hope he continues to relish these experiences because obviously nothing is guaranteed, but to have back to back years is such a blessing for him,” Everhart said. “We’re rooting for him and of course being in Tampa Bay, we gotta cheer for the Bucs as well.”
The pride of Robinson, Montero and Everhart share that pride whenever his name is mentioned or he receives recognition in the NFL.
“I love it when they say his name or they flash to him and they say, ‘From Tampa, Florida’ or ‘Tampa Robinson,’ or something like that. It’s an awesome feeling,” Montero said. “I get texts here and there from people, ‘Hey, didn’t he play for you?’ and I’m like ‘Yes, sir!'”
Pringle and the Chiefs look to repeat as Super Bowl champs, and he will be looking to make an impact on offense and in special teams against the Buccaneers.