Running back Thomas Tyner would add depth to a competitive backfield
Thomas Tyner, the five-star speedster out of Aloha High School in Beaverton, Ore., has had Oregon fans drooling ever since he verbally committed to Oregon on November 19, [email protected]@http://www.oregonlive.com/ducks/index.ssf/2011/11/[email protected]@
He is highly touted for his blazing 4.38 40, but at 6-foot-0 and 200 pounds, he is much more than speed. As he bulked up in high school, Tyner developed a knack for running over defenders on his way into the end zone.
Sean Meagher, producer for Oregonlive.com, has covered Tyner extensively this [email protected]@http://blog.oregonlive.com/blazers/[email protected]@ He’s considered how Tyner’s size will be used in an already-deep backfield if he does indeed sign with Oregon.
“Tyner is a combination of top-end speed and size the Ducks probably haven’t had since Jonathan Stewart,” Meagher said. “What we’ve seen from him at the prep level is not only the top-end speed, but the ability to slip through tackles and shake any defenders who attempt to tackle at the pad level. That, of course, won’t translate directly to the next level when everyone else is more comparable size-wise, but he can hit the gap as well as run on the outside.”
The talent level is obviously there, as Scout.com ranked him fourth in the nation among running backs, but if he does join Oregon he is joining a crowded backfield with an established star (De’Anthony Thomas), a back-up (Byron Marshall), and now even tight end Colt Lyerla is taking reps at tailback. Some speculate, due to Chip Kelly’s past decisions, he might redshirt his freshman year.
“I actually asked him this yesterday and he thinks he’ll be able to get playing time early as he plans on enrolling in spring,” Meagher said. “And with Kenjon Barner graduating, I’d expect both Tyner and Dontre Wilson will play next season.”
What makes Tyner so incredible is how well-rounded he is. Oregon has had smaller explosive backs like LaMichael James and Thomas, and they have had large power backs like LeGarrette Blount, but they haven’t experienced a back with the classic NFL body type and speed since the days of Jonathan Stewart.
“Tyner has really good eyes and vision and reads angles defenders try to take pretty well,” Meagher said. “He’s similar to DAT and LaMike in the sense that when he gets a bead on a guy, he won’t be caught from behind. He’s also shown the ability to catch out of the backfield, though Aloha doesn’t pass often.”
In recent history, Oregon has been consistently spoiled with talent at the running back position. As time goes on they only seem to get better with the likes of Thomas and James breaking every record in the books. This begs the question of how Tyner’s legacy will stack up against the previous backs.
“This is too TBD for me to give an accurate answer. If he can stay healthy — he’s battled injury issues his sophomore and junior years — I think he’ll be pretty good,” Meagher said. “Durability will be his main key to success, and he’s shown that durability so far this season, carrying the ball over 120 times in four games. The coaching and treatment he receives at the next level will go a long way into his success. (Running back) Gary Campbell has a pretty good track record at getting results from his running backs.”
However the competition at the running back position concludes, it is certain that the talent and athleticism in the back field will be entertaining and among the nations elite. He also plans to join the track team and run relay with fellow teammate De’Anthony Thomas.
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