When Notre Dame beat out Alabama and Oklahoma to gain the signature of running back Chris Tyree is was truly a coup for the Fighting Irish program, which had struggled recruiting running backs for much of the three previous seasons.
Tyree certainly didn’t disappoint as a freshman, rushing for 496 yards and four touchdowns while going for an impressive 6.8 yards per carry. His yards and touchdowns on the ground were the second best for a Notre Dame freshman in the Brian Kelly era, behind only the performance of Josh Adams from the 2015 season.
The Chester, Va. native was content with his freshman season, which was part of what was a tumultuous campaign for the entire nation.
“Heading into the season I had really had no idea what to expect,” Tyree said following the first practice of spring practice. “I knew that whatever my role was I was going to play that and do it to the best of my abilities, so when it comes to my expectations I’m pretty happy with what I did.”
The time between the end of his freshman campaign and the current spring practice period was a time for growth for Tyree, both physically and fundamentally.
“This offseason I’ve took a lot of time to get bigger, stronger, faster,” Tyree explained. “I’ve gained a little bit of weight, and I’m really confident on being a complete back.”
Tyree is a quiet, mild-mannered young student-athlete. During his entire press conference he showed the same poise, maturity and intelligence that was on full display while he was one of the nation’s top recruits in the 2020 class.
His calm demeanor should not be misconstrued for a lack of confidence, or fire. Tyree is an extremely confident running back, and he knows full well the talent he brings to the game. While he was comfortable with his role as a freshman, the talented rising sophomore is ready for an expanded role.
“I think we all understand that good things happen when the ball is in my hands,” Tyree said matter-of-factly. “Just being able to expand that and getting more opportunities to get me the ball is the goal right now.
“I’m really confident in what I can do on the field,” Tyree continued. “It’s just up to me to be able to show that to more people. Just being more confident in my role, and being sure that I show the playmaking ability that I’m capable of.
Tyree talked about being a sophomore and having a year under his belt has allowed him to create better technique and better work habits, which he knows will make him an even better back. The talented runner wants to be able to show his talent in more ways this season.
“Even growing up back at home I really made an emphasis that I wasn’t just some fast guy carrying the ball,” Tyree explained. “I wanted to make sure that people knew I could run between the tackles in addition to the tosses and screens and swings and stuff like that. I know how to use my speed to my advantage, I think I’ve shown that I have pretty good vision, and I’m building on becoming a complete back.”
Tyree went onto explain how the similarities between he and Kyren Williams, in that both have experience catching the ball, not only allows them to build off each other, it makes them a duo that can play together.
If Tyree makes the kind of jump he thinks he will, and the kind of jump his talent dictates, the combination of he and Williams could burst onto the national scene and become one of the nation’s best - if not the best - backfield duos in 2021.
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