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2020 NFL draft: Patriots head coach Bill Belichick stuns small-school prospect Tyshun Render with surprise workout

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Related: Nick Caserio explains what the combine means for the Patriots

Middle Tennessee State University Athletic Communications

When New England Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio spoke about the NFL combine earlier this week, he pointed out his team’s success at finding players not invited to the scouting event. Caserio mentioned long-time starting offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer and veteran wide receiver/Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman as examples for the Patriots finding and developing players who flew under the radar in the pre-draft process.

Tyshun Render falls under this category as well. Despite a productive career at Middle Tennessee State, the 22-year-old defensive lineman was not among the 337 players invited to this year’s combine in Indianapolis. That does not mean, however, that he has failed to catch the eye of NFL teams — with one standing out: the Patriots, who had a private and rather spontaneous workout with Render at the university’s facilities on Monday.

None other than head coach Bill Belichick conducted the workout, and this left quite the impression on the draft hopeful as he told Joseph Spears of the Daily News Journal: “I was just in a state of shock when Coach [Tommy] West first told me. I was just like, ‘Why me?’ It’s just crazy that the best coach in the NFL wanted to see me personally and wanted to watch film alongside me to help develop me better as a player.”

The workout itself was set up by Middle Tennessee State offensive coordinator Tony Franklin, who was contacted by Belichick and asked about players that “may not be visible” to other people around the NFL. Render’s name came up, and the most successful coach in league history got on a flight to Murfreesboro to take a closer look at him — all while the combine was already underway 270 miles to the north.

“I just went out there and was myself. That’s what caught his attention in the first place. I just wanted to keep that up and not do anything out of the ordinary that didn’t represent the real me,” Render told the Daily News Journal. “It’s back to the grind. I’m trying to make myself the best version of me that I can possibly be right now. Meeting Coach Belichick only helped ignite the fire that was already there even more.”

Render’s workout was not the first Belichick held at the school. Two years ago, he visited Murfreesboro to take a closer look at Richie James. The wide receiver never found his way to New England, however, and was eventually selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the seventh round of the 2018 draft. Whether or not Render’s fate will be the same is up in the air at the moment, but the Patriots are certainly positioning themselves to gather as much information on him as possible.