Tanner Cerand grew up in Maryland where he attended The Bullis School. At Bullis, Tanner was a four-year varsity starter on teams that twice finished in the top 10 at the National Prep Wrestling Tournament. In his junior and senior seasons, he was a National Prep All-American, Washington Post All-Met team member, IAC league champion, and team captain. His junior year he placed fifth at the Maryland State Tournament, following it up his senior year by winning the tournament, becoming Maryland State Champion, and achieving a #1 ranking in the Washington Post. He won the Maryland State All-Star Classic Championship and finished fourth at the Reno Tournament of Champions, which was ranked by USA Wrestling as the toughest tournament in the country for the 1999-2000 season. Tanner was also recognized for his efforts in the classroom as a National High School Coaches Association Academic All-American for the 1999-2000 season. Over the course of his four-year wrestling career at Bullis, Tanner was part of two IAC championship teams and set the school record for wins with 148 career victories.
As a football player, he was a two-time All-County member in his junior and senior seasons, and team captain and MVP his senior year. Upon graduating from Bullis, Tanner attended Cornell University, where he played varsity football his freshman year and was on the varsity wrestling team, which won the Ivy League Championship.