Running back Thomas Tyner will arrive at Oregon this summer with the future of Oregon football on his shoulders.
Sound a bit overstated?
Well, not if you read up on the accolades the kid will bring with him to the Ducks. Or if you consider the impressive physical tools he'll be adding right away to the Oregon backfield. Add in the fact that he's a local kid who's been following the Ducks for years now, and well, you have a recipe for a future superstar.
At 6'0" 220 pounds (he's added weight according to an update from oregon.247sports), he has the frame to physically manhandle defenders whether it's using the stiff-arm or bulldozing his way forward. Arm tackles aren't going to work with Tyner.
In addition to his larger frame, he brings world class speed, which on paper, is faster than LaMichael James or Kenjon Barner. Think De'Anthony Thomas if he were several inches taller and about 30-35 pounds heavier. He may not have those instantaneous cuts in his repertoire that we've become accustomed to seeing from DAT, but his speed alone has fans giddy with excitement.
So with all that out of the way, the only important question is what kind of impact will Tyner have in his freshman season?
After all, hype can only take you so far. There are guys like Jadeveon Clowney who arrive with massive hype and back that up from the moment they step on campus. Then there are others, like Bryce Brown (who, to be fair, has found a place in the NFL), who never seem to fit in on a college campus.
Let's begin by taking an analytical approach to predicting what kind of statistics Thomas Tyner might have in year one.
Between Kenjon Barner, Marcus Mariota, De'Anthony Thomas and Byron Marshall, the Ducks totaled 563 carries. Barner had 278 of those carries, and he's the only one of that foursome not on the team any longer.
So where will those carries go? Well, De'Anthony will clearly get a decent share of them, let's say 165 for now. That puts him at exactly 12-15 per game (in 12 games), and is nearly double what he had last season.
Byron Marshall will also be seeing a lot more carries, and I think a safe prediction for him is right around 200. That would be almost 17 carries per game, more than twice his amount from 2012.
Then there's Marcus Mariota, and I don't know that he'll be running a lot more in 2013. The reason of course, is that he'll have a deep group of receivers to throw to, and while the offense may not look dramatically different, I'd be surprised if the passing attack wasn't used more often.
That leaves roughly 90 rushes from Barner that are still unaccounted for, and that's where Tyner comes in. What he does with those carries will largely depend on when he's getting them. If they occur in the first half with the game still close, I think he could put up some decent totals. But, if they occur in garbage time when the defense knows what the Ducks are going to do, he may not find as much room.
Then there's the issue of receptions, but I think that's anyone's guess.
So without further ado, here's what I believe will (roughly) be Tyner's statistics his freshman season:
95 Carries for 750 yards and 9 TDs, 12 catches for 101 yards and 2 TDs, 1 fumble
I added in the fumble because there's sure to be a "welcome to college football" moment where Tyner lets one slip away.
So much of this could change by the time Nicholls State arrives in Eugene, but I'm predicting a solid, not spectacular start to Tyner's career. Should he grasp the offense quickly, then he'll definitely have a shot at 1,000 yards.
But for right now, I'm playing it rather safe and going with the totals you see above. Of course, I'll be happy to be wrong if he shatters those numbers. With the kind of talent Thomas Tyner has, there isn't much he can't do in his time at Oregon.