A colleague of mine, Ron Bowens, and I were discussing my recent article on Noel Devine when he asked me if I had heard of the “Tyrell kid down in Louisiana.” Taking as much pride as I do in knowing obscure sports names, players, stats, and information, I was a bit embarrassed that I hadn’t heard of him.
Ron assured me that I should check him out, and when I did, it prompted me to write a piece on him as well to bring attention to this fine young man.
From humble beginnings in La Place, LA, (population 30,590), Tyrell Fenroy has gone from prep phenom, to overlooked recruit, to the sixth-leading rusher in the nation. He also has grown mentally, physically, and spiritually as a person and player at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.
Rated as a one-star recruit on Scout.com and a two-star recruit on Rivals.com out of St. Charles Catholic High School, Tyrell wasn’t even the most highly touted recruit at his position when he signed with the Cajuns in 2005. That honor went to a three-star speedster from Houston named Deon Wallace.
Tyrell’s low recruiting rankings are surprising given the success he had in high school and, in hindsight, the success he’s had at the D-I level.
Despite finishing his prep career with 5,714 all-purpose yards and 82 touchdowns, along with twice being voted Player of the Year by the Clarion Herald and being recruited by Florida, Tennessee, Ole Miss, and Texas, he only received offers from ULL and Ole Miss. Through soul searching and conferring with his family, he decided to stay close to home.
As a true freshman, he started out buried in the depth chart, but after an injury to Wallace, forcing him to redshirt, Tyrell capitalized and went on to rush for 1,053 yards and 12 touchdowns, becoming the first back in ULL history to post a 1,000-yard rushing season.
He followed that up with impressive sophomore and junior campaigns in which he posted over 1,000 yards for three straight years.
This season though, after beefing up to around 215 lbs., he has gone above and beyond, posting four 100-plus yard performances in seven games, including a three-game stretch where he rushed for over 183 yards and scored three touchdowns in each game.
When asked about Tyrell prior to the season starting, Coach Ricky Bustle said, “I think Tyrell is one of the finest backs I have ever been around. Whether I was at Virginia Tech, South Carolina, or anywhere. I think he is a heck of a back, as long as he wants to stay hungry, and he seems to be that way. That he wants to work hard every day, the sky's the limit. He is a tough guy, knock on wood and stays away from too many injuries.”
Playing in the Sun Belt conference, on the best rushing offense in college football at 311.7 yards per game, the senior running back has gained 930 yards and 12 touchdowns and is on pace for 1,663 yards and 21 touchdowns. His 7.5 yards per carry is almost two yards higher than his career average. Fenroy is currently sixth in the nation in rushing.
What makes it so impressive is that Heisman candidate and NCAA leading rusher Javon Ringer, who has put up 1,373 yards, has 170 more carries than Fenroy but only averages 4.6 ypc. If Fenroy had 300 carries, he'd have 2,250 yards already!
So far, he has racked up 4,241 yards and scored 42 touchdowns in his career, making him the Sun Belt Conference's all-time leading rusher. Earlier this season, he passed Patrick Cobbs of North Texas (now with the Miami Dolphins), who had 4,050 yards and 36 touchdowns.
He needs just 70 yards to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark again, which will be his fourth consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season. Only six other players have accomplished that feat in NCAA history.
"I think about it a little bit," Fenroy says of the milestone. "It's just going to come when it comes. Really, I just go out and practice every day and make sure I leave everything on the field."
The star running back is 21 years old, grounded, and is a man of faith. His mother has been encouraging and supportive of her son from day one. Ann Fenroy helped Tyrell with the recruiting process, deciding to commit to ULL, and talks to her son before each game to pray.
"That's our tradition," Ann explains. "Every game he calls me...every game. He calls and he says, 'Momma, let's pray.'"
The Doak Walker Award candidate has hopes of making it to the NFL, and if his play this year is any indication, he may very well be drafted next April. If not, the young man wants to become a State Trooper, putting his degree in Criminal Justice to good use.
I’m sure that the highways of Louisiana can wait a few years, Tyrell. Have fun in the NFL.