Oregon Football: To Which Former Duck Does Thomas Tyner Compare?
You made it! This is the final installment in the series comparing Oregon football's 2013 recruiting class to your favorite former Ducks. Isn't it fortunate that Thomas Tyner's name comes late in the alphabet to build the suspense? Insert smiley face here.
It's been really fun to look both forward and backward at the same time, getting to know the scholarship newcomers and remembering former Duck greats.
Now, let's wrap this up by starting with the "R's" and ending with a very important "W".
Saving the Robinson twins' commitment marked the launch of the Mark Helfrich era as head coach of the Oregon Ducks. Letting these terrific athletes from San Diego get away would have been a real blow to the 2013 class and, ultimately, the program.
Starting with Tyree, this 4-star, 2-sport athlete will be allowed to pick his position, according to Helfrich. While Robinson could play wide receiver, he looks like the perfect defensive back, so let's go with that for the comparison's sake.
In fact, Tyree reminds one of Walter Thurmond III. Robinson (6'4", 190 lbs) is bigger than Thurmond (6'0", 175 lbs), but their body types look similar. And you can expect to see Tyree returning punts and kickoffs. If he's anywhere near as good as Thurmond was on special teams, well, yippee skippee.
Both players are speedy with quick reactions. Thurmond was the Ducks' top defensive playmaker in 2009 and a strong team leader. He didn't play basketball, as Robinson intends to do, but, hey, my bet is that WTIII could do anything he set his mind to.
Tyree Robinson's twin brother, Tyrell, is also listed as "athlete" on Oregon's official 2013 recruiting list. The guess is, that because of the potential to play sooner rather than later, Tyrell will choose the outside linebacker position.
Tyrell reminds me of an underrated Oregon linebacker, Josh Kaddu, who likely got overlooked because of all the high-profile Ducks he played with. When you are teammates with players like LaMichael James, Darron Thomas, Cliff Harris and Mark Asper, there's not a lot of ink left over for you.
But Kaddu was a natural, solid player at the outside LB position, a fact confirmed when the Miami Dolphins drafted him in Round No. 5 of the 2012 NFL draft. Kaddu is 6'3", 242 lbs, and Robinson is 6'4", 201 lbs.
Once Oregon's strength and conditioning coach, Jim Radcliffe, gets hold of Robinson, he will probably add some bulk. Because of his early focus on basketball, Tyrell took to football late, but he, like Kaddu, is a natural at the game, according to Scout.com.
It will be interesting to see if football or basketball wins out for Tyrell.
It's probably unfair to compare 3-star Chris Seisay to an Oregon legend, but he looks like Kenny Wheaton, folks.
In case you've just moved to Oregon from an Indonesian atoll, Wheaton pulled off the most famous play in Oregon history when he intercepted a Washington pass and returned it 97 yards for a touchdown—a play that catapulted the Ducks to their first Rose Bowl appearance in, like, a million years.
That one play by Wheaton quite literally changed the face of Oregon football. What many Oregon fans might not remember is that Wheaton's history-making play came when he was a redshirt freshman, and that he was also the interception leader for the Ducks in 1994, 1995 and 1996. Wheaton also led the Ducks in tackles his junior season.
So, Chris Seisay, what do you have to say to that? The good news is that the Ducks have more quality players today than in the '90s, so you aren't expected to be Kenny Wheaton on Day 1.
Seisay loves to play wide receiver, but at 6'2", 175 lbs, Oregon wants him at cornerback. He will also get a chance at returner.
Seisay smiles more than Wheaton, and Duck fans hope he will smile as he's picking off opponents' passes and striding into the end zone, a la Wheaton.
Head coach Mark Helfrich referred to Thomas Tyner as "the total package as a tailback." Obvious to Duck fans, that statement could be made about several Oregon running backs from Bobby Moore to Saladin McCullough to Onterrio Smith to Derek Loville. Not to mention LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner.
But watching Tyner run on film, he most resembles former Duck great Jonathan Stewart (aka J-Stew, according to B/R contributor Trey Carpenter).
Stewart is a rare combination of strength and speed, as is Tyner. Both players are big and physical; Stewart is 5'11", 230 lbs, and Tyner is also 5'11" and currently 201 lbs.
Both Stewart and Tyner have good hands, and Stewart rarely fumbled during his Oregon playing days. Duck fans will hope that Tyner has that wonderful trait as well.
Will Tyner be as good as Stewart? If he stays healthy, and with a better supporting cast than Stewart enjoyed, he should reach J-Stew's lofty heights.
Wish I could show you a picture of Evan Voeller and Gary Zimmerman (photo) side-by-side. They could be father and son.
For those kids reading, Zimmerman was the premiere offensive lineman in Oregon history, and one of the all-time great NFL players. He was elected to the NFL Hall of Fame in 2008. Zimmerman had a 12-year NFL career, retiring with the Denver Broncos after their 1998 Super Bowl win.
It's really unfair to compare these raw recruits to great former Ducks like Zimmerman, but Voeller is the real deal. At 6'5", 278 lbs, Voeller is almost identical in size to Zimmerman in his playing days. Coach Helfrich said that Voeller "plays urgently and physically." That's how I remember Zimmerman.
Voeller will need some coaching up and refinement, but he has the necessary ingredients to be Gary Zimmerman Jr.
Maybe it's the hair. When I look at the photo of junior college transfer linebacker Joe Walker, I think of Casey Matthews.
Matthews was a terrific former linebacker for the Ducks and is now wearing No. 50 for the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles. Hey, Matthews, in case you haven't heard, you have a new coach!
Walker is similar physically to Matthews at 6'2", 225 lbs, and according to Mark Helfrich, came into Oregon winter term in great shape. Helfrich added that Walker is "vocal"; Matthews was known to not be shy when he had something to say.
Matthews was and is a tackling machine. Duck fans should know soon if Walker fits that mold, as is he likely to see playing time right away.
Hope he keeps the hair.
Juwaan Williams, a 3-star prospect from Georgia, is listed as "athlete" on the official 2013 list, but it's likely he will play wide receiver.
Helfrich said that Williams "was in the mold of a Josh Huff guy, but a little taller." Yes, but Williams also reminds me of former Duck great Cristin McLemore.
McLemore (1992-95) was one of the keys to the Ducks' magical Rose Bowl season in 1994, and he still figures prominently in the Oregon record books. McLemore is tied for fifth on Oregon's all-time career receptions list and sixth on receiving yardage. He played in the NFL for the Indianapolis Colts.
According to Scout.com, Williams is a natural, smooth athlete who could play several positions at the collegiate level. McLemore was nothing if not smooth. He also had great hands and good football intelligence, traits that Williams seems to share.
McLemore was a touchdown machine for the Ducks, and always did serious damage after he caught the ball. Williams is a good runner, and if he ends up having a nose for the end zone, he too could be dangerous as a receiver.
Last, but most assuredly not least, we come to kicker Matt Wogan. In fact, Wogan may turn out to be the recruit with the No. 1 in this 2013 class.
Mr. Wogan, please look very carefully at the photo on this slide. This is Jared Siegel immediately after he kicked a 32-yard field goal with 12 seconds left as the Ducks beat USC 24-22 in 2001. This is how Duck fans treat kickers they like.
Siegel is No. 1 on the Oregon all-time career field goals list. And you may know that former great Ducks RB LaMichael James is No. 1 on Oregon's all-time career scoring list with 348 points. But do you know, Mr. Smartypants, who is No. 2 on that list?
Yes, it's Jared Siegel with 323 points. It's doubtful with the Ducks' current style of play that you will see a placekicker score that many points again, but wouldn't it be nice to have one who could?
I have no idea if Matt Wogan will turn out as fine as Jared Siegel, but it's my No. 1 wish for 2013.
That's the end of our series on the Ducks' 2013 recruiting class. Hope you enjoyed it.
Kay Jennings is a member of the Football Writers Association of America.