- Brandon P. Oliver, Reporter, DuckNation
As a high school football coach in the state of Oregon, having elite talent on your team is far from the norm. The state typically produces four or five elite level division one prospects each year.
Aloha High School head coach Chris Casey has been on a great run of late. In 2010, he helped guide his team to their first Oregon State Championship.
On that team were James Euscher, who is currently a redshirt freshman at the University of Oregon, and current Ducks running back commit, Thomas Tyner.
Tyner broke out as a sophomore when he led the team in rushing en route to the state title. He also set the all-time Oregon state record in the 100-meter dash when he ran a 10.35.
Since then, Tyner has faced questions regarding his durability as he has battled hamstring injuries over the past 18 months. According to the No. 104 player in the ESPN 150 and his coach, he is back to full strength and ready to explode in his senior season.
Casey took the time to break down his star running back as he looks forward to his senior season and his future as an Oregon Duck.
"Thomas has always been a good kid from a good family so he doesn't get distracted by outside influences at all. He has always been quiet and a real team guy," Casey said. "What I am most proud of when I think about Thomas is the fact that he has really grown as a leader. He is a team-first kid that wants to do nothing but make his teammates better. He has really matured into a vocal team leader."
Casey is glad to see his star player stay close to home and carry the flag for the state of Oregon, as well as his Aloha program.
"Thomas is really close with his family. He has a brother at Pacific University in Forrest Grove (Ore.). Being nearby is going to be great for him and he transitions into college," Casey said. "Not only in terms of football and track and field -- but also in terms of academics and location -- Oregon is truly the perfect fit for him."
Casey went on to break down Tyner's ability as a player and what he'll bring to Aloha this coming season before heading off to Eugene.
"Thomas has big goals and wants to be the best there is. He is a perfect fit for the Ducks program, but he also knows that nothing is more important than his senior season with us," Casey said. "He has really improved as a pass-catcher, which will serve him well in college as well. He's the best I've ever had as a receiver out of the backfield."
When it came time to choose a school, Casey knows Tyner made the right call.
"Oregon is really the best place for him. No doubt about it. He has really learned to use his pads to get into defenders and become more physical as a runner. Oregon likes to spread you out and get their guys into space," Casey said. "That's where Thomas shines, but they also need you to be physical as a back and he has gotten much better at initialing contact when he knows it's coming."
The questions about Tyner's ability puzzle Casey as he knows the 6-foot-0, 215-pounder's year-round schedule of track and football would be a strain on anybody.
"He has been banged up with that nagging hamstring issue, but he has worked extremely hard and came into camp looking and feeling as good as he ever has," Casey said. "He's back where he needs to be for himself and our team. I expect him to have his best season yet in 2012. I also expect him to do nothing but improve when he gets to college."