Oregon running back Thomas Tyner’s decision to leave football and focus on his art and designs studies went somewhat overshadowed by USC athletic director Pat Haden stepping down. But the talented and unfortunately snake-bit Tyner deserves center stage one last time for a career in which he so often, willingly played a supporting role.
The Oregon football program issued a brief statement via the university’s official athletic site, citing health. Tyner missed the duration of last season due to a shoulder injury requiring surgery.
The former 5-star recruit’s career may have ended prematurely, but Thomas Tyner made history in his brief run. His 10-touchdown game at Aloha High School will forever live in prep football and recruiting lore.
Tyner showed the flashes of 5-star brilliance in an impressive freshman season. However, the arrival of another ballyhooed prospect a year later, Royce Freeman, forced Thomas Tyner into the background of a potential star-turn sophomore season.
As the bruising ball-carrier Freeman bullied his way into the spotlight in 2014, I asked Mark Helfrich about Oregon balancing its rushing attack between two such capable players. Helfrich commended both for their willingness to sacrifice individual glory for team success.
Their selflessness paid off with a Pac-12 championship and the first-ever College Football Playoff victory — another piece of football history no one can take from Thomas Tyner, and which he himself was integral in making happen.
Tyner played arguably the best individual game of his Oregon career in the Ducks’ 59-20, Rose Bowl deconstruction of Florida State. He went for 124 yards on just 13 carries and scored a pair of touchdowns.
“A healthy Thomas helps everybody out,” Helfrich said following the Rose Bowl, via ASAPSports.com. “It helps Marcus [Mariota]. It helps Royce. It helps Byron [Marshall] be truly versatile and not have to lean one way or the other as far as a game plan approach. We were very excited when we thought‑‑ we talked kind of during the Bowl prep he was having a great last couple weeks. He’s had a couple of hard‑nosed, tough runs going against the defense quite a bit, and there were a couple of good little battles in there.”
It’s a shame Oregon won’t get that healthy Tyner back next fall to help Freeman, Darren Carrington, or whomever assumes quarterbacking duties. Should the enduring legacy of his career be running circles around the Seminoles, however, that’s a helluva way to make an exit.