Perhaps no signee in the 2013 class for Oregon will walk into the program with higher expectations than elite running back Thomas Tyner.
Tyner said he remains on track with his grades after scoring all A's last week.
The 6-foot-0, 220-pound back finished ranked as the No. 1 running back in the nation per the 247Composite. And yep, you read that right, I said 220 pounds.
"I weighed in at 220 today," Tyner said Sunday afternoon. "And it's all good weight, I feel really good."
In a surprise move, the track superstar has foregone his senior year of track. Not many were aware, but the five-star back had to get his academics in order, or he wouldn't be running track or carrying the rock for the Ducks this year.
"I'm 100-percent focused on school, that is my only focus right now," he said. "And I'm doing really well. I just got a report card and it had all A's on it. I didn't do track so I could spend more time this last semester getting my grades up. I'm not really doing much of anything else, it's all just focused on school."
Has the efforts paid off or is there still more work to be done in the classroom for the incoming freshman?
"I need to get a good score on my SAT and I'll be set. That won't be a problem either. I know I can do well on that test and I'm not concerned. But I'll continue preparing for it because none of this will matter unless I finish my academics. I have no option but to study and I'm doing that. This will also help me learn to manage my time in college where I'll have to focus on schoolwork on my own. I need to learn to balance football and track and school."
Despite not doing track this season, Tyner will participate in college.
Although he hasn't been focused on football or even learning the playbook at this time, Tyner said his attention will shift focus once his academics are handled.
Tyner eyes a national title at Oregon.
"I've skimmed the playbook for Oregon but I just haven't had as much time to get into that yet. But I will because one of my goals is to play as a freshman and push for that starting job. I feel like I can adjust to the offense pretty easily and I have great success in the spread. I don't feel a lot of pressure even though I'm an in-state guy, but I have really high expectations for myself."
In addition to his goal of playing early at Oregon, Tyner has a bigger goal in mind as well.
"I've been talking with some of the players at Oregon and our goal is to win a national championship. And I want to be the centerpiece of that championship run. I want to come in and help carry the load for my team however I need to and get us there. That's the goal."
Oregon was able to sign another quality class despite some uncertainty with the NCAA. Tyner was the top signee but he has been communicating with another signee that hopes to join the backfield with him.
"I've stayed in touch with Damion Hobbs pretty good. We are both excited to get to Oregon and play together. I've watched his film, he's an insane athlete. He's hoping to push for the quarterback spot and help me tear it up in the backfield. I'm excited for the twins too, those guys are scary good athletes."
For some there is an interesting transition with Mark Helfrich now the head man. Tyner said after meeting him the day he (formally) accepted the position, he knew he was the right man for the job.
"Once coach Helfrich came with all of the coaches I knew he was the guy. He seems very caring and he's a big family guy and my parents loved him. I'm really excited to play for him and I don't expect the offense to skip a beat. I'm going to the Spring game this weekend and I'm excited to check that out and see the coaches again."
It's been a wild ride for the state's No. 1 player in his class. After shattering records and dropping jaws, Tyner reflected back on his success which has brought him to this point.
"People know who I am now and definitely acknowledge I'll be at Oregon this year. It's amazing to think where I am after youth football to this point. Now it's on to the next chapter for me at Oregon and to that national championship."
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