The Oregon football team likely dropped from the national championship battle this weekend, but the Ducks came out on top in the race for ESPNU 150 Watch List running back Thomas Tyner. Despite garnering interest from a number of BCS programs, the Aloha (Beaverton, Ore.) junior gave a verbal commitment to Chip Kelly moments after the Ducks’ 38-35 loss to Pac-12 rival USC.
“I chose Oregon because I’ve been going to all their home games, and I got that ‘family’ feeling,” Tyner told ESPNHS. “I really think I can do some damage in the spread offense. Just getting out in the open (field) would be great for my speed.”
Tyner was satisfied with the recruiting pitch from Kelly and his staff and elected to make his decision early to alleviate any stress during his senior season. He originally joked about announcing during a scripted touchdown celebration next season.
The commitment concluded a tumultuous fall for Tyner, who battled myriad injuries as the Warriors fell in the first round of the state playoffs while he watched from the sidelines. He played in only half of Aloha’s games, racking up more than 1,000 yards and scoring 12 times. As a sophomore, Tyner guided Aloha to its first Class 6A crown and was Gatorade State Player of the Year last fall.
He expects to be back to 100 percent for the spring track season, when he hopes to repeat as state champ in the 100 and defend his title as Oregon’s fastest sprinter.
At Oregon, Tyner hopes to compete in both football and track while he pursues a degree in journalism.
“The track tradition there is excellent,” he said. “I also want to [work] in broadcasting after my sports career, possibly for ESPN.”
Tyner appeared on the cover of the ESPNHS Oregon Magazine in September. Check out the feature here.