When Tyler Oedekoven talks about “The TO Show,” it’s not the UAlbany wide receiver bragging about the highlights he creates on the field — even though he’s more than capable of producing a few of those.
No, “The TO Show” that Oedekoven is referring to is his podcast, launched earlier this year as a chance for him to explore the life of a student-athlete, from his perspective and that of his guests, who have included fellow UAlbany football players, athletes from other sports at UAlbany and guests from outside the school.
“We give other athletes — from every sport, not just football — a platform to talk about whatever they want,” Oedekoven said. “It’s really awesome.”
The redshirt sophomore from Erie, Pennsylvania, posted the first episode of “The TO Show” on Feb. 12, a conversation with former Great Danes teammate Dev Holmes. Since the debut, Oedekoven has released 13 more episodes, with guests including teammates like running back Karl Mofor, offensive lineman Kobe Thomas and tight end LJ Wesneski.
In his July 29 episode, Oedekoven spoke with former UAlbany wide receiver Juwan Green — now with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons — and Oedekoven announced via social media on Monday that his next episode, releasing Tuesday, was a conversation with Great Danes head coach Greg Gattuso.
The conversations have all shared a similar theme — the ups and downs of life as a college athlete.
“After I finished one, I was like, ‘This is so much fun,’ ” Oedekoven said. “It’s just a chance to talk to different people and get their perspective on different things.”
Among Oedekoven’s favorites out of the 14 episodes released to date were his chats with Mofor, former UAlbany quarterback Nyc Burns and UAlbany volleyball setter Andersen Vaughan.
Working on the show has also connected him to plenty of new people.
“I’ve had some people who I’ve never met before,” he said, “and being able to meet them and hear their story, it’s really awesome.”
With collegiate athletes now able to profit from their name, image and likeness under new NCAA rules that went into effect in July, Oedekoven’s show has evolved yet again. He’s not heavily angling for sponsorship — it’s “not important to me. It’s more about the content that I’m creating,” he said — but the loosened restrictions have allowed conversations to feel more open, with less skirting around mentioning specific businesses or products.
“It’s definitely lifted restrictions on what you can and cannot say on the podcast,” Oedekoven said. “Sometimes, it was a lot of gray area before, now it’s more leeway and a lot more open. When you’re talking about different companies, stuff like that, it’s a little freer. It’s kind of helped us a little bit with opening up our conversations.”
On the field, Oedekoven is also hoping things can open up more for him and the Great Danes this fall after their frustrating, injury-shortened spring season.
Oedekoven was a breakout player for UAlbany in 2019, putting up 17 catches for 256 yards and three touchdowns — including a pair of highlight-reel grabs that made the SportsCenter Top 10 on ESPN — as a third option behind Green and Jerrah Reeves. He seemed poised to inherit the No. 1 receiver role last season, and caught 13 passes for 127 yards through two games before an injury put an end to his season.
Oedekoven was in uniform on the sidelines for the final two games of UAlbany’s spring season before the Great Danes ended their campaign prematurely due to injury, but didn’t make it past warmups when it came to getting back on the field.
“It was tough, mentally, because I wanted to be out there with my guys and perform at the highest level,” he said. “At the end of the day, [me playing hurt] was way worse than the guy behind me.”