Tyner calls it quits in football
Thomas Tyner will not return to Oregon State's football team next season.
The former Aloha High standout and University of Oregon transfer has decided not to apply for a medical redshirt with the NCAA that would grant him an additional season of eligibility in 2018.
"My heart's not in football anymore," Tyner said Thursday. "If I'm not 100 percent committed, it's time for me to move on."
Tyner, 23, was the most decorated running back in Oregon prep history. He set a state single-season rushing record with 3,415 yards as a senior at Aloha in 2012. In one game against Lakeridge that fall, Tyner ran for 643 yards — which still ranks second on the national single-game list — and 10 touchdowns.
During his freshman and sophomore seasons at Oregon, Tyner rushed for 1,284 yards and 14 TDs. He twice topped 100 yards in a game — with 140 yards as a freshman in the 2013 Civil War and 124 yards against Florida State in the 2015 national semifinals at the Rose Bowl.
Tyner sat out the 2015 season with a shoulder injury, and in February 2016, it was announced that he would take a medical retirement. That opened up a scholarship for the Ducks, but meant he couldn't come back to play for them.
Tyner continued as a student at the U of O, but eventually decided he wanted to return to the gridiron. He did that at OSU with a football program he said he followed as a youngster. Tyner took summer classes to ensure he met academic requirements to transfer and be eligible for the 2017 season.
Playing behind incumbents Ryan Nall and Artavis Pierce and seeing a majority of his action at slotback, Tyner was the No. 3 ballcarrier at Oregon State last season, rushing for 297 yards (4.6 average) and three TDs. He also caught five passes for 42 yards.
Tyner didn't expect to start ahead of Nall, but hoped he would see more duty at tailback, the position he had played since his youth football days.
"That was frustrating," he said. "I came to training camp at about 240 (pounds). The coaches wanted me to get down to 220. I got down to 225 and I felt good, like I was in playing shape. I felt great about where I was.
"But I didn't see the playing time I thought I should have gotten. I didn't get to play tailback very much. I didn't think I was used in the offense the way I should have been. I wasn't used to going in motion and mostly running fly sweeps. It still bugs me today, but I'm moving past it."
The Beavers went 1-11. At midseason, coach Gary Andersen resigned and left the team in the hands of cornerbacks coach Cory Hall.
"It was hard to get through the whole season, especially not being able to win games, and then Coach Andersen leaving," Tyner said. "It was rough not only because of the record, but because you could see the team falling apart. It was tough for a lot of the guys. It did have a little bit of an effect on whether I'd come back (next season) or not."
Tyner questions whether the coaches knew what they were doing.
"I just think we had a lot of weapons on the team, but they didn't use them properly," Tyner said. "For example, Isaiah Hodgins was one of our top receivers, and he didn't play at all in one game (against Washington). Strange things happened all through the season. It was tough on all of us."
Over the Christmas break, new coach Jonathan Smith visited with Tyner's family at their Aloha home.
"It was like I was going through the recruiting process again," Tyner said. "We talked for a while. I had given some thought to coming back and playing next year. That whole month, I had gone back and forth about it. But by the time he visited, I just knew I didn't want to play anymore."
Tyner doesn't want to leave the impression he was totally unhappy with his experience at Oregon State.
"I was glad to get another opportunity to play," he said. "I thank Coach Andersen for that opportunity. A lot of things that went on, I didn't get, but I was just happy to be there. I loved the guys on the team. I've been on a lot of teams, and we had as good chemistry as I've been around. That was the best part of it.
"I don't regret it. It was a learning experience more than anything, despite how frustrating it was. I've had a unique career. I took those two years off. I came back because I wanted to give it another shot to see if I could pursue a career in football. But you don't really enjoy football if you're not fully passionate about it. There are others things I want to do. I plan on moving away from football and trying to advance in my life, to finish school and be a normal person."
Tyner is still at Oregon State. He is on target to graduate with a degree in sociology in June. He intends to move to Bend. Before the decision to go to OSU, he had talked with representatives of a forest products firm about a job there.
"Once the time gets closer, I'll reach out to them again," he said. "I love to fish. I love to hunt. Those are hobbies. Right now, my main goal is to finish school. After that, I want to work in a field I enjoy."
Tyner seems at peace with his decision to not play football again.
"I'm excited more than anything," he said. "It's a new life for me. I get to be me. People want to see and know the football side of me. But now that I'm not playing football, I'm going to enjoy myself a lot more and do what I love."