Jamaica’s Superstar

Nyles Bynum knew the odds of being selected to the PSAL’s All-City team were stacked against him. He was from Queens, the ugly duckling of PSAL football, and his team, Jamaica, was in the second-tier Bowl Division, where they were merely a .500 club, and lost in the opening round of the playoffs.
“I didn’t think they were going to take anyone from Queens, specifically Jamaica,” he said.
Being named to the All-Borough and All-Academic teams was quite an accomplishment, particularly when every offensive and defensive name announced at Stuyvesant High School at the PSAL’s Awards Banquet in February was not his. Only a funny thing happened when that very last special teams spot was called out - Nyles Bynum, Jamaica.
“My first reaction was shock, and my second reaction was happiness beyond belief,” he said of becoming the first player from the southeastern Queens school to earn such an honor since the varsity program was reestablished four years ago. “It had to be the best feeling in my life. When my name was finally called, I jumped up to accept that trophy.”
That award is featured prominently in the 6-foot-1, 175-pounder’s room. It stands on its own by the dresser, to the right of his bed. “I look at that trophy every day probably,” Bynum said. “It’s not the biggest trophy I have, but it’s my favorite.”
Along with the recognition as one of the city’s top players, Bynum got an automatic invite to play in the Outback Steakhouse Empire Challenge, an All-Star game pitting the top players from New York City against Long Island. Every year, the South Flushing resident watched the game, aired on the MSG Network, and dreamed of playing in it. Now, he will be one of the many talents on the Hofstra field.
Bynum did not get there overnight. A basketball star upon entering Jamaica, he took to football entering his sophomore year. Every summer, he worked diligently on his game until the gridiron became natural to him. After starring on the jayvee, he filled in admirably as the backup to senior Nate Ford, now at C.W. Post. Moreover, this year, as a senior he produced in many roles, as a wide receiver, running back, linebacker and kick return specialist.
“He’s early, he asks good questions, he wants to make sure everything he’s doing is perfect,” Jamaica Coach Kenny Dyckman said of his star senior who produced over 700 yards of total offense and seven touchdowns in addition to the two punts he returned for scores. “I could use a few more like him.”
Bynum’s final season was a culmination of all the work he put in throughout high school. He spent nearly all of last summer preparing for the incoming season. He took part in the Big Apple Games, worked on football-related drills with Dyckman and teammates in addition to rising every morning at 6 a.m. with his father for training sessions at Bally’s.
At first, the extra weight lifting was Gregory Bynum’s idea, while his son struggled with the early hours. “But once he got into it and he knew he needed it to get better, he was waking me up,” Gregory Bynum recalled fondly.
It not only paid off in the All-Star selection and the opportunity to play among the tri-state area’s best, but at the next level. This fall, Bynum will be an invited walk-on at Temple University. Bynum had other choices, Div. II and Div. III schools he could have earned a scholarship from, but he got in academically with an 88 average and 1650 SAT score, and wanted nothing less than to prove himself at the highest level possible. “He works hard enough, he can be successful there,” Dyckman said. “He’s smart enough to know very few freshmen get on the field. You have to put your time in and work very hard. He’s going to give them everything they’re going to want from him.”
Whatever the result, Bynum has already done more than enough for Jamaica. His presence at Temple, trying out for the football team, is a huge leap. So is his inclusion among the PSAL’s best. The Beavers have yet to win a playoff game and they routinely struggle against upper echelon opponents. But Bynum is a sign the tide may be turning.
“I thought I had to set a standard for people at Jamaica after me,” he said. “Hopefully, I opened other players’ eyes.”

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