One of the top players in the nation for the recruiting class of 2013 is Aloha (Ore.) running back Thomas Tyner who committed to play for the Oregon Ducks in November of 2011. During his senior season, Tyner continues to put up huge numbers for Class 6A Aloha high school.
After six games, Tyner has amassed 1971 yards and 27 total touchdowns, averaging 13.0 yards per carry.
"He has matured in so many areas and one of them is waiting for blocks to set up and timing things," explained Aloha head coach Chris Casey. "He is very instinctive."
At 6-foot and 205-pounds, Tyner has size that is not typically associated with a speedster.
"He's awful physical," Casey evaluated. "He runs very hard and gets his shoulder pads down. He gets positive yards after contact. When some people think of speed guys they don't think about the physicality, but he has become more and more physical. He is running very physically this year like he's on a mission."
The only knock on Tyner at the national-caliber level has been durability, including a hamstring injury suffered during track season last year.
"It is gone now," said Tyner of his injury. "It's not even there. Back when I injured it during track season it was kind of a wake-up call for what I need to do for my body."
In fact, Tyner has turned that setback into a positive lesson learned.
"Over the year I've matured a lot I think and have learned how to take care of myself and do what is needed to stay healthy," said Tyner. "I have been treating myself well, I think with therapy and stretching and now I'm icing. Flexibility was a big problem for me which caused a lot of my injuries. Now I'm stretching a lot more and I'm icing when I'm not sore, just taking care of my body."
For the Ducks, Tyner hopes to continue with both football and track & field.
"Yes I will do both track and football," Tyner confirmed. "I tell people you only get to do sports for so long because your body will start breaking down and you're not able to anymore. I just think if you're going to go, go all out."
Well, maybe not completely all out.
"Maybe if Chip lets me play club soccer I'll do that," Tyner laughed. "It would be fun. I think that might be a little out of the question though."
Speaking of Tyner's track speed, veteran coach Chris Casey has never seen the likes of it.
"He has got the best burst I've coached in 31 years and of course the best linear speed," said Casey. "He catches the ball very well. He is going to be a great fit for the Ducks as well because of those things."
Is Thomas Tyner, who has been committed to Oregon since his junior year, solid to the Ducks?
"Yes I am," Tyner answered. "I always wanted to stay close to my family. I think everyone has that 'California dream' like they want to live in California. I thought about going down south and playing football, but something just called me to Oregon. My family is big to me and I just wanted to stay close and keep them in my back pocket. I'm only going to be two hours away from them. I picked up that Autzen and Hayward atmosphere and the feeling is indescribable and it feels like family down there already."
Oregon coaches and fans of two sports will certainly feel the same way about him.