Aloha, Oregon has a population of around 54,000 people. It’s a small town on the west end of Beaverton, Oregon.
It is also home to the best football player in the state of Oregon in 2013: Thomas Tyner.
Coming out of Aloha High School, Tyner was a five-star recruit and the No. 1 overall prospect in the state of Oregon. After having offers to USC, UCLA, Washington, Oregon State and Oregon, Tyner committed to the Ducks two hours south on I-5 freeway in Eugene, Oregon.
The Oregon offense was fast-paced, up-tempo, and led by one of the greatest quarterbacks to come through Oregon: Marcus Mariota. It was a perfect fit for a determined, punishing runner like Tyner.
While Tyner had moments of electricity at Autzen Stadium, there were some lows too. The five-star prodigy was plagued with injuries and sat behind Bryon Marshall and freshman Royce Freeman on the depth charts.
In two years, Tyner finished with 228 carries for 1,284 yards and 14 touchdowns.
A season-ending shoulder surgery prior to to the 2015 season was it for his career at Oregon. Rather than return to the Ducks in 2016, Tyner elected to retire.
We thought he was done, but he wasn’t. All the sudden, two years later, his name popped up in the football world once again. He committed to Oregon State for the 2017 season.
In Corvallis, Tyner rushed for 297 yards and three touchdowns on 64 carries last season in his first and only year at Oregon State.
Those outside the college sports world may only just see the glitz and glam and pageantry that is the sport. Within programs all over the country, players are pressured to perform at peak level all the time. If you get hurt, shake it off and get back out onto the field. Put your feelings aside, cancel out the outside noise and play ball. These are the stigmas that players have to deal with, and sometimes on their own.
Tyner was one of them. He joined our series called ‘Headstrong’ to discuss more:
“There’s so much - maybe not pressure - but a lot of weight on my shoulders. Here I am, five-star recruit and one of the top running backs listed in the country, it’s something very tough for any 18-year-old to handle. All that attention can turn you in so many different ways.
“Wanting to live up to the expectation that people have, especially moving onto the next level. If you’re a top-10 recruit in the country, you’re expected to play at a very high level.
Tyner didn’t grow up loving the spotlight. He is a quiet guy that let his play do the talking.
But what happened when such a promising career at Oregon was beginning to slip out of his hands due to injury?
“It was very tough for me because here I am, this top running back recruit who comes into Oregon at that time and I don’t think I was meeting those expectations. And then I have another big setback on my play. That was hard for me definitely mentally more than physically, I think. I felt like I had let a lot of people down…”
“College was probably one of the most taxing times of my life mentally. It was tough for me. I felt like I wasn’t living up to the expectations, I wasn’t meeting the standards I had set… I definitely went through a mental rollercoaster in college and that’s when I was like, ‘You know what, it’s time for me to move on’ and that’s what I tried to do. I was happy with my efforts to try and get back out there and play. I was satisfied and a lot of weight was taken off my shoulders.”
Watch more in the video above.
Also, enjoy part two of this series below with Thomas Tyner where he explains more on how he copes with mental health utilizing the great outdoors.