JOHNATHAN CYPRIEN

Strong Safety

Florida International University Golden Panthers

#7

6:00.2-217

North Miami Beach, Florida

North Miami Beach High School

 

OVERVIEW

The state of Florida boats two of the hardest hitting tacklers in the college game, at any position. Perhaps it is fitting that both are safeties, as playmaking defensive backs are of vital importance for any NFL team hoping to shut down their opponents. One of these standout players in Matt Elam of the University of Florida, a five star recruit with a mantel full of trophies and a scrapbook loaded with newspaper clippings.

 

The other, Johnathan Cyprien, never heard if Scout.com or Rivals.com gave him any stars and he’s not the type to clip stories anyway, as he is just trying to make a name for himself among his peers, and also his enemies – any wide receiver or ball carrier that dares to meet up with him on the football field. Some scouts call Elam another Bob Sanders, an undersized tackling machine who plays beyond his physical ability.

 

Until this season, Cyprien was not noticed much, as the Golden Panthers don’t exactly have a television deal to rival Notre Dame, after all. But, he has quietly built a “cult following” of old-time scouts, who see him as a blend of Jack Tatum’s collision-type tackling and Steve Atwater’s imposing frame and great range closing on plays in front of him.

 

Based on how Cyprien performed in Mobile, Alabama during practices leading up to the 2013 Senior Bowl, to say that he has arrived as one of the elite defenders in this draft class would be an understatement. In front of over six hundred NFL personnel, he is no longer a secret – the North Miami Beach High product is ready to take his game to the next level and those in attendance are anticipating great things from him.

 

“It has meant a lot to me,” Cyprien said of his Senior Bowl experience. “I came out here to try my best. I tried my best while I was at FIU. Being on a smaller stage compared to other schools and other conferences, it has meant a lot to be here. I think from the attention I have been getting it has been pretty positive and I believe that people have been pleased with it.”

 

“I believe that as far as the draft goes and the teams, it gave me more exposure, the 217-pound safety noted. “One thing I showed everyone is that I’m a very physical player. Also, I’m a leader and a communicator on the field.” That was Cyprien’s goal in accepting the Senior Bowl invitation. His senior season marked the second time in three years that he led the Panthers in tackles, with 93.

 

He closed out his career with 365 tackles, the most in school history. And unlike some safeties, he’s not a “pile jumper” who pads his stats after a teammate makes the initial hit. Among active NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision players, his 213 solo tackles rank fifth overall. The only safety to total more is Cody Davis of Texas Tech (286).

 

Making those bone-jarring plays has been Cyprien’s trademark since his high school days.

“That’s how I’ve always been,” he said. “At FIU, we had great defensive coaches who always wanted us to play with enthusiasm and want you to have fun out there, because when you have fun that’s when you play your best. I believe that’s a big part of the game. If you make a big play let’s celebrate about it because we train hard and work hard for those plays, so you should take advantage of them when they come.”

 

“I love one-on-one play. One-on-one drills, sideline to sideline against one opponent, that’s what I like. As a defensive back, you have to be so athletic to cover someone who knows exactly where he wants to go. We have to stop them from getting there and catching the ball, so it’s very fun to me. I don’t want anyone catching the ball. I want to make sure that I’m all over them. I get real excited about it.”

 

Talking to the media on why Cyprien was extended an invitation to play in the game,

Senior Bowl executive director and former NFL scout and executive Phil Savage said. “I loved his tackling, his explosiveness. He just had a football temperament that jumped off the tape. We kind of waited and let some of the other people go in and check him out. I had a friend from another team go in and check him out late in the year and I told him to just text me, thumbs up or thumbs down. He texted me ‘Thumbs way up.’

 

“He’s come in here and done what I really thought he could do in terms of the football mentality. He’s been in tune with it. Beneath the service, he’s one of the more talked-about players here at the Senior Bowl.”

 

“I think his instincts and his reactions, an ability to just want to go to the ball. It’s almost kind of a natural thing for him. And if he can run fast enough at the Combine for people to say, ‘Hey, his instincts will overcome any deficiency in speed that he might have.’ There are some scouts now, after this week, who already says he can run. That’s one of the final blanks he’ll have to fill in, but overall he’s been terrific here this week.”

 

Cyprien served as team captain as a senior at North Miami Beach High School. He was a two-way player, competing at defensive back and wide receiver, coming off a junior campaign where the Chargers went 12-1 and ranked 16th in the state of Florida. Even though they slipped to a 6-5 mark during his final season, Cyprien still earned All-Dade County honors from the Miami Herald and was an All-District 12-6A first-team pick.

 

Cyprien was lightly recruited during his senior season, with only Western Michigan and Florida International showing any serious interest. The head coach at FIU then, Mario Cristobal, put on a “full court press” to keep Cyprien from leaving the state, feeling that the player had similar outstanding qualities displayed by the Blades brothers when Cristobal was a member of the Miami Hurricanes.

 

Brought along slowly as a true freshman, Cyprien was chomping at the bit hoping to see more action. He had to bide his time while three other players earned starting assignments at strong safety. He impressed the staff with his work in practice and during the second half of 2009, he started seven games, earning All-Sun Belt Conference honorable mention. The freshman finished that campaign second on the team with 78 tackles, adding two forced fumbles and picking off one pass.

 

Once he stepped into the starting lineup, Cyprien never left, finishing his career with 45 consecutive starts. Still, national recognition eluded him. Even the coaches within his own league, who witnessed the FIU product punishing their own players, failed to give him first-team All-Sun Belt honors in 2010 (received second-team). After leading the team with 113 tackles, causing three fumbles and deflecting six passes that year as a sophomore, Cyprien just shrugged at the slight and note “we’ll get ‘em next year.”

 

The 2011 season was much of the same for Cyprien, as he again garnered second-team All-Sun Belt honors. He had registered 81 tackles as a junior, including making six of those hits in the opposing backfields. He blocked a kick with the coverage unit and in pass coverage he returned his third career interception for a touchdown and broke up eight other pass attempts.

 

“Next year” came for Cyprien in the form of a Senior Bowl invitation, finally being accepted as an All-Sun Belt first-team performer by his peers and even earning All-American recognition in 2012. He made 93 tackles in his final season, and while known for his tackling ability, he also emerged as a pass defender, picking off four passes, including three inside the red zone, along with deflecting five other throws.

 

CAREER NOTES

Cyprien played in 50 games at Florida International, starting his final 45 contests (FIU record) at strong safety…Recorded 365 tackles, which rank eleventh overall among active NCAA FBS players, and second to Kemal Ishmael of Central Florida (368) among the nation’s active defensive backs…His 365 tackles shattered the previous school career-record of 302 by Scott Bryant (2006-09) and placed him fourth in Sun Belt Conference history behind Bois Lee of Troy (397; 2006-09), Craig Robertson of North Texas (382; 2007-10) and Cardia Jackson of Louisiana-Monroe (381; 2006-09)…His 213 solo tackles also set a school all-time record and rank fifth overall and second among NCAA active defensive backs (Cody Davis of Texas Tech has 286)…Had a 2-yard sack, 13.5 stops for losses of 29 yards, six forced fumbles (another FIU record) and a pair of fumble recoveries…Deflected 22 passes and intercepted seven others for 41 yards in returns, including a touchdown… Also blocked one kick.

 

2012 SEASON

Cyprien earned All-American Super Sleeper Team honors and was named the Sun Belt’s Defensive Player of the Year by The NFL Draft Report…The Senior Bowl participant was also named to the All-Sun Belt Conference first-team after a standout senior year for the Panthers…Serving as one of the team captains, he led the squad for the second time in three seasons with 93 tackles (54 solos), making 3.5 stops for losses of 9 yards and also causing one fumble…Deflected five passes and intercepted four others for 32 yards in returns…Opened the season with nine tackles (7 solos) vs. Duke, four coming on third-down plays…Followed with eleven tackles (9 solos) and a pass break-up vs. Akron and was in on twelve tackles (7 solos) with a stop for a loss vs. Central Florida…Delivered nine tackles and picked off a pass vs. Louisville…Totaled eight stops vs. Louisiana-Lafayette and had seven tackles (6 solos), but lost three yards on an interception return at Troy… Credited with seven tackles and an interception vs. South Alabama…Followed with a 35-yard interception return, eight tackles and a stop behind the line of scrimmage vs. Florida Atlantic, as he also caused a fumble vs. FAU.

 

2011 SEASON

Before the 2011 season, Cyprien claimed the number seven jersey previously worn by 2011 Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ seventh-round pick Anthony Gaitor (he switched from the 25 sweater)…Earned All-Sun Belt Conference second-team honors, as he started all thirteen games at strong safety, finishing third on the team with 81 tackles (48 solos), adding a 2-yard sack and 5.5 stops for losses of 12 yards…Blocked one kick, intercepted one pass and deflected eight others…Was named the Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Week after his nine-tackle performance in a 28-17 win at Louisiana-Monroe, as he also recorded an interception that he ran back nine yards for a touchdown…Blocked a kick at Western Kentucky…Produced a season-high 11 tackles at Louisville and had six tackles along with a season-high three pass break-ups vs. North Texas…Registered seven tackles in each of the Florida Atlantic, Middle Tennessee and Marshall (Beef O’Brady’s Bowl).

 

2010 SEASON

The All-Sun Belt Conference second-team selection started all thirteen games at strong safety, leading the team with a career-high 113 tackles (63 solos), making three stops behind the line of scrimmage…Became just the fourth player in school history to record at least 100 tackles in a season, ranking fourth on the annual chart. Others to reach the “century mark” are Keyonvis Bouie (119 in 2006; 118 in 2005), John Haritan (117 in 2003) and Scott Bryant (101 in 2009)…Caused three fumbles and recovered another, as he also recorded one interception and six pass deflections.

 

2009 SEASON

Cyprien’s hard work earned him All-Sun Belt Conference honorable mention as a true freshman…Appeared in all twelve games, but had to watch three other players start at strong safety before the coaches finally relented and put him in the lineup, as he went on to start the final seven games on the 2009 schedule and set the school career-record with 45 consecutive starts before concluding his career…Finished second on the team with 78 tackles (48 solos), adding 1.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage…Caused a pair of fumbles and recovered another…Recorded one interception and three pass deflections.

 

INJURY REPORT

No major injuries reported.

 

AGILITY TESTS

4.64 in the 40-yard dash…1.52 10-yard dash…2.65 20-yard dash…4.44 20-yard shuttle…

7.01 three-cone drill…38 ½-inch vertical jump…9’11” broad jump…Bench pressed 225 pounds 18 times…31 ¾-inch arm length…10 ¼-inch hands…76 5/8-inch wingspan.

 

HIGH SCHOOL

Cyprien served as team captain as a senior at North Miami Beach (Fla.) High School, playing football for head coach Jeff Bertani…Was a two-way player, competing at wide receiver and safety…During his junior campaign, he helped the Chargers compile a 12-1 record and rank 16th in the state of Florida….Even though they slipped to a 6-5 mark during his final season, Cyprien still earned All-Dade County honors from the Miami Herald and was an All-District 12-6A first-team pick…Was teammates with current Detroit Lions safety Louis Delmas and Tampa Bay cornerback E.J. Biggers…Honor Roll student.

 

PERSONAL

Physical Therapy major…One of five children of Roselaure and Kennel Cyprien…Resides in North Miami Beach, Florida.

 

PLAYER STATISTICS

DEFENSIVE STATISTICS
STATS GP GS TK SO AS FR FC INT TFL PBU SACK BK
2009 12 07 078 048 030  01  02  01 01.5-05   03  0.0-00  00
2010 13 13 113 063 050  01  03  01 03.0-03   06  0.0-00  00
2011 13 13 081 048 033  00  00  01 05.5-12   08  1.0-02  01
2012 12 12 093 054 039  00  01  04 03.5-09   05  0.0-00  00
TOTAL 50 45 365 213 152  02  06  07 13.5-29   22  1.0-02  01

 

INTERCEPTION RETURNS
STATS NO YARDS AVG TD LONG
2009  01        00 00.00  00    00
2010  01        00 00.00  00    00
2011  01        09 09.00  01    09
2012  04        32 08.00  00    35
TOTAL  07        41 05.86  01    35

 

 

CYPRIEN GAME BY GAME LOG

2012 Season

Date

Opponent

Score

Played

Int. Ret.

Tackles

Sacks

PBU

FC

BK

No

Yds

TD

Ast

Solo

Asst
Loss

Solo
Loss

Loss
Yds

Ast

Solo

Yards

Duke 09/01/12 at Duke 26-46

Yes

0

0

0

7

2

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Akron 09/08/12 Akron 41-38

Yes

0

0

0

2

9

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

UCF 09/15/12 at UCF 20-33

Yes

0

0

0

7

5

0

1

2

0

0

0

1

0

0

Louisville 09/22/12 Louisville 21-28

Yes

1

0

0

5

4

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

La.-Lafayette 09/29/12 at La.-Lafayette 20-48

Yes

0

0

0

2

6

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Arkansas St. 10/04/12 Arkansas St. 20-34

Yes

0

0

0

2

2

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Middle Tenn. 10/13/12 Middle Tenn. 30-34

Yes

0

0

0

3

4

0

1

1

0

0

0

1

0

0

Troy 10/20/12 at Troy 37-38

Yes

1

-3

0

1

6

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Western Ky. 10/27/12 Western Ky. 6-14

Yes

0

0

0

3

4

0

1

3

0

0

0

0

0

0

South Ala. 11/03/12 at South Ala. 28-20

Yes

1

0

0

4

3

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Fla. Atlantic 11/16/12 at Fla. Atlantic 34-24

Yes

1

35

0

3

5

1

0

3

0

0

0

1

1

0

La.-Monroe 11/24/12 La.-Monroe 17-23

Yes

0

0

0

0

4

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

Season Totals

4

32

0

39

54

1

3

9

0

0

0

5

1

0

 

2011 Season

Date

Opponent

Score

Played

Int. Ret.

Tackles

Sacks

PBU

FC

BK

No

Yds

TD

Ast

Solo

Asst
Loss

Solo
Loss

Loss
Yds

Ast

Solo

Yards

North Texas 09/01/11 North Texas 41-16

Yes

0

0

0

4

2

0

0

0

0

0

0

3

0

0

Louisville 09/09/11 at Louisville 24-17

Yes

0

0

0

6

5

1

0

2

0

0

0

2

0

0

UCF 09/17/11 UCF 17-10

Yes

0

0

0

2

4

0

1

2

0

1

2

0

0

0

La.-Lafayette 09/24/11 La.-Lafayette 31-36

Yes

0

0

0

1

6

0

2

2

0

0

0

0

0

0

Duke 10/01/11 Duke 27-31

Yes

0

0

0

1

3

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Akron 10/08/11 at Akron 27-17

Yes

0

0

0

4

2

0

1

3

0

0

0

0

0

0

Arkansas St. 10/18/11 at Arkansas St. 16-34

Yes

0

0

0

4

2

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Troy 10/25/11 Troy 23-20

Yes

0

0

0

1

2

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Western Ky. 11/05/11 at Western Ky. 9-10

Yes

0

0

0

1

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

Fla. Atlantic 11/12/11 Fla. Atlantic 41-7

Yes

0

0

0

3

4

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

La.-Monroe 11/19/11 at La.-Monroe 28-17

Yes

1

9

1

3

6

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

0

0

Middle Tenn. 11/26/11 at Middle Tenn. 31-18

Yes

0

0

0

3

4

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

Marshall 12/20/11 Marshall 10-20

Yes

0

0

0

0

7

0

1

3

0

0

0

0

0

0

Season Totals

1

9

1

33

48

1

5

12

0

1

2

8

0

1

 

2010 Season

Date

Opponent

Score

Played

Int. Ret.

Tackles

Sacks

PBU

FC

BK

No

Yds

TD

Ast

Solo

Asst
Loss

Solo
Loss

Loss
Yds

Ast

Solo

Yards

Rutgers 09/11/10 Rutgers 14-19

Yes

0

0

0

4

5

0

1

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

Texas A&M 09/18/10 at Texas A&M 20-27

Yes

0

0

0

4

7

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

2

0

Maryland 09/25/10 at Maryland 28-42

Yes

0

0

0

2

4

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

Pittsburgh 10/02/10 at Pittsburgh 17-44

Yes

0

0

0

2

9

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Western Ky. 10/09/10 Western Ky. 28-21

Yes

0

0

0

8

5

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

North Texas 10/16/10 at North Texas 34-10

Yes

0

0

0

2

4

0

1

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

Fla. Atlantic 10/30/10 at Fla. Atlantic 9-21

Yes

0

0

0

11

2

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

La.-Monroe 11/06/10 La.-Monroe 42-35

Yes

0

0

0

2

5

1

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

Troy 11/13/10 at Troy 52-35

Yes

1

0

0

2

3

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

La.-Lafayette 11/20/10 at La.-Lafayette 38-17

Yes

0

0

0

4

6

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Arkansas St. 11/27/10 Arkansas St. 31-24

Yes

0

0

0

2

4

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

0

0

Middle Tenn. 12/04/10 Middle Tenn. 27-28

Yes

0

0

0

5

3

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

Toledo 12/26/10 Toledo 34-32

Yes

0

0

0

2

6

1

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

Season Totals

1

0

0

50

63

2

2

3

0

0

0

6

3

0

 

 

 

2009 Season

Date

Opponent

Score

Played

Int. Ret.

Tackles

Sacks

PBU

FC

BK

No

Yds

TD

Ast

Solo

Asst
Loss

Solo
Loss

Loss
Yds

Ast

Solo

Yards

Alabama 09/12/09 at Alabama 14-40

Yes

0

0

0

0

4

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Rutgers 09/19/09 at Rutgers 15-23

Yes

0

0

0

2

1

1

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

Toledo 09/26/09 Toledo 31-41

Yes

0

0

0

1

3

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

La.-Monroe 10/03/09 at La.-Monroe 35-48

Yes

0

0

0

2

3

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Western Ky. 10/10/09 at Western Ky. 37-20

Yes

0

0

0

5

5

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

Troy 10/17/09 Troy 33-42

Yes

0

0

0

1

5

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Arkansas St. 10/24/09 at Arkansas St. 10-27

Yes

0

0

0

3

3

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

La.-Lafayette 10/31/09 La.-Lafayette 20-17

Yes

0

0

0

6

3

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Middle Tenn. 11/07/09 at Middle Tenn. 21-48

Yes

1

0

0

0

7

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

1

0

North Texas 11/14/09 North Texas 35-28

Yes

0

0

0

2

3

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Florida 11/21/09 at Florida 3-62

Yes

0

0

0

0

9

0

1

4

0

0

0

1

0

0

Fla. Atlantic 12/05/09 Fla. Atlantic 21-28

Yes

0

0

0

8

2

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

Season Totals

1

0

0

30

48

1

1

5

0

0

0

3

2

0

 

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