Alumni Spotlight

Former FIU Football Star Johnathan “Cyp” Cyprien ’12 now making “big plays” off the field

In both his personal and professional life, Johnathan “Cyp” Cyprien ’12, who played for the FIU football team and then in the NFL for eight years, is committed to others’ success. He believes it’s all about “making investments that help people to be their best,” be it family and friends, community, his real estate business, or his alma mater, FIU. Most recently, he has “leveraged his platform, resources, and relationships to empower student-athletes to succeed in college and life.

“Growing those bonds with the people around me turned into a network, people I can rely on,” he says, “and people who can count on me, too.”

Cyprien’s efforts are already being recognized, most recently as part of FIU’s inaugural 5 Under 35 award – and he’s just getting started. A natural leader, Cyprien recognizes the power of constantly growing and evolving, to add value in the right places at the right time. He credits his mother, a Haitian immigrant, for teaching him the importance of hard work and for guidance that empowered him to chart his own course, leading to a successful career post-NFL.

Cyprien’s connection with football started when he was 6, playing with his friends after school. They played all sports, but always ended playing football, his favorite. It didn’t matter what ball was on hand—to Cyprien it was just as easy to play football with a soccer ball or even a baseball. So, when another kid walked by in full football gear, an intrigued Cyprien followed him right into the local little league.

From there, hard work and determination carried him through being team captain on the North Miami Beach High School team and to a major decision: With two equally good football scholarships on the line, would he go to Western Michigan or stay with his hometown university? The answer quickly became clear.

“It was a gut decision,” he recalls. “A lot of kids want to get away from home, but it’s a great feeling to experience something new while being close enough to the people I care about. That’s what FIU was for me.”

Looking back on his football career as a student-athlete and in the NFL, Cyprien relishes the moments where all the discipline and planning snapped into place, allowing him to show what he could really do. He recounts come-from-behind victories and plays where he foiled the other team’s strategy with big hits and game-changing plays.

Cyprien’s now making “big plays” off the field in business and the community. In 2015, he founded CYPSquad At-Risk Youth Foundation, which provides positive experiences and education to help young people to help construct a solid foundation on which to build toward their passions. During challenging times like the COVID -19 pandemic, the organization expanded its mission to help meet community needs, like delivering groceries to people financially impacted and dealing with health concerns.

In 2021, when name, image, and likeness (NIL) rules changed, allowing college student-athletes to profit from their public profiles, Cyprien established Inside the Cage, a marketing company designed to help them create a strong brand and manage marketing deals with companies and sponsors. In addition, Inside the Cage provides personal support through mental health services and financial literacy. Cyprien’s “focus is on immediate benefits and long-term stability,” which he said he would have found beneficial as a student-athlete.

His current work in real estate has parallels to football and keeps him connected to the NFL. He notes that he has become “a trusted real estate advisor to NFL players and other professional athletes, helping them to make investments that build and sustain wealth.” Cyprien credits being able to pay it forward to the coaching he received from colleagues in real estate as well as financial advisors.

Cyprien is building what he envisions becoming “a real estate empire” that also allows him to strengthen connections in the worlds he’s a part of. He learns more each day and passes that knowledge along, especially to FIU’s student-athletes and the NFL players he’s in contact with. He celebrates how far he’s come, while continuing to strive for personal and professional growth.

“I treat my work like I do my sport,” Cyprien said. “Gotta have the discipline and hunger to become great at what you’re good at.  I use the same work ethic to achieve greatness in business as I did in sports.”

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