You’ve heard the stories about Oregon Ducks commit and Aloha High School back Thomas Tyner, and now it’s time to accept his limitless NCAA potential.
Tyner is a unique athlete that almost requires sportswriters to publish stories on the sensation.
Aside from being considered a top running back in the Class of 2013, he is also the fastest track runner to ever hail from the state of Oregon, which means a lot considering how impressive of a track history the state has. And on the evening of his 18th birthday, Tyner ran for a historic 644 yards on 38 carries and recorded 10 TD’s in one night over Lakeridge High School.
There’s no other way to put it.
After last night, I no longer feel presumptuous when saying that Tyner has proven that he can be an Oregon legend.
"The beginning of the game I saw in the guys eyes. We were ready to play," Tyner told The Oregonian.
And ready to play he was.
The Oregon Ducks commit led Aloha High School to an 84-63 victory under the Friday night lights, including consecutive scores of 62, 60, and 65 yard touches. In what proved to be the third most rushing yards in high-school football history, Tyner continues his road to glory on his way to Eugene, hoping to silence critics along the way.
"I just went in to my season opener feeling like I had a lot to prove," Tyner recently told Duck Territory after his opening week.
"I know there are a lot of people out there doubting me and wondering if I can stay healthy. Some people wonder if I'm really as good as my ranking and stuff like that. I'm just using that for motivation. I'm motivated to be better and be the best I can be out there."
Could there be a better way to silence the doubters than the performance that Tyner put up on his birthday on Friday evening?
After all, Tyner has 1,027 in his last two games alone. Tyner is the No. 1 ranked player in the state of Oregon, and is considered to be the No. 4 running back in the nation by Scout.com and 247sports.com and was just named to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl roster after compiling 80 carries for 1,230 yards and 17 touchdowns in his first three games of the season.
Without an ounce of reasonable doubt, he has lived up to it thus far this season. If not, just watch a video of every touchdown that he has recorded this season.
The game, which was tied 63-63 with six minutes to go, was against one of the best teams in the state of Oregon, led by quarterback Eric Dungey. Dungey is believed to be the best QB in the state of Oregon, and has been compared to Fran Tarkenton.
Tyner outlasted Dungey for the victory.
“Thomas Tyner is going to make lots of defenses look bad," said opposing Lakeridge High coach Tom Smythe.
“I told our players, in three years, he may be playing in the NFL. Some day, you’ll be sitting in a bar watching him on TV and you’ll be able to tell your buddies you almost tackled him in high school," Smythe said of Tyner. Tyner won USA Today High School Player of the Week following his performance.
"If he lived in the south, every major school in the SEC would be drooling over him," said one reader of The Oregonian.
After following the play of Tyner via highlights and analysis, it has become clear that he's as legitimate as they come.
Tyner, who runs an unreal 4.30 second 40-yard dash (which has helped him earn the nickname "Dash"), is also better sized and more elusive than many of the Oregon running backs who have played for the Ducks in recent years. Scout.com has Tyner listed at 6’1” and 218 pounds, but 247sports has him listed at a perhaps more accurate, yet still impressive, 6’0” and 207 pounds.
The only thing that Tyner has yet to do is play a game for Oregon.
“I feel like I proved on Friday that I am ready for the next level,” Tyner told Justin Hopkins of 247sports.
That he did. Of course, the biggest worry that critics of Tyner tend to list is that he lacks a proven durability, which can cause him to miss playing time. Tyner, a multi-sport athlete, puts a lot of wear and tear on his body by running as aggressively as he does, and my single largest hesitation to accept that he will be the "next great Oregon running back" is that we have yet to see his long term health concerns.
His upside, however, is undeniable and keeps fans, like myself, coming back for more.
"Tyner is unbelievably fast and seems to be going full speed the moment a play starts,” writes Jake Worthen of Scout.com. “His world class speed combined with his 200lb frame make him very hard to bring down.”
His field vision and ability to change direction at whatever speed that he accelerates to makes him an absolute force to be reckoned with.
Keep in mind that he’s faster than De’Anthony Thomas and 40 pounds heavier.
There’s a reason why Bleacher Report calls him the next Adrian Peterson.
That’s what happens when you have the elite breakaway speed and track star acceleration that Tyner provides for a football team, and when you add his size and impossibility to tackle into the mix, fans across the Pac-12 ought to be getting nervous.
Next season, Kenjon Barner will be off the roster for the Oregon Ducks, but the Ducks will still be incredibly deep at the running back and infamous Oregon razorback position—highlighted by De’Anthony Thomas and supported by Byron Marshall (13 carries, 125 yards vs. Tennessee Tech), wide receiver and athlete Bralon Addison and fellow 2013 commit, 4-star Dontre Wilson from De Soto, Texas.
With Thomas Tyner, the Oregon Ducks boast someone with the potential to leave a legacy that will be remembered at the University of Oregon for years to come and join the ranks of Jonathan Stewart, Bobby Moore (Ahmad Rashad), LaMichael James and Derek Loville as Oregon legends.
The Ducks have only recently become the new generation's "Running Back University," and with LaMichael James at the forefront of the identity, Tyner has rivers to cross in accolades and achievements before he is given a crown.
His durability needs to be tested, as does his acceleration out of the pocket against a level Pac-12 defense.
What we've seen so far, however, leads me to believe that Tyner has the undying potential to be one of the best to ever wear the green and yellow for Oregon if he continues at the rate that he has shown us thus far.
Bryan Kalbrosky is a Featured Columnist for the Oregon Ducks and writes for the TNT Events Coverage team at B/R. He is also the Director of Communications for the Oregon Ducks student section, and manages their website which can be found at www.uopitcrew.tumblr.com. Click here to follow him on Twitter.