Monday Cooldown – Calvin Tyler Jr. a grateful and productive leader – Cache Valley Daily

LOGAN – When Calvin Tyler Jr. stepped up to the podium during Utah State’s post-game press conference on Saturday, the first question was fairly obvious: “How good did it feel to have three touchdowns in this game?”

The three touchdowns wasn’t all Tyler did in the game, but were his most eye-popping stat. Tyler ran for a team-high 125 yards on 30 carries – his highest carry total since 33 in the season opener against UConn – to go along with the career-high three rushing scores. But instead of talking about how that kind of performance happened, Tyler chose to respectfully deviate from the question.

“I want to thank my teammates for sure, and guys like John Gentry who haven’t played a snap at running back this year,” Tyler said. “He’s been the most supportive teammate this year. He don’t understand. It probably goes over his head but he’s been doing everything he can in practice. Working his butt off and also motivating me and having the same energy everyday on and off the field.

“I’m so thankful for guys like him. Jordan Wilmore, same thing. Them guys motivate me. It felt good seeing him in there today, Jordan, running the ball hard. Getting some positive gains and also being there to motivate me.”

Tyler further said that being an Aggie changed his life after he chose to transfer from Oregon State in 2020.

“I left Oregon State and I was on the coach for three, four months. Not knowing where I was going to go,” Tyler said. “Getting that call from coach (Chuckie) Keeton, saying they want me here. That changed my life. I’m so thankful for this team, this staff for believing me.”

It’s a testament to the leadership of Tyler and his willingness to share in his own personal successes. And he’s been successful this season. Saturday was Tyler’s sixth 100-yard game of the season, tied for second-most in program history. Were he to rush for 100 yards in his next two games and raise that total to eight, Tyler would join a four-way tie for the program record for 100-yard games in a single season (Robert Turbine, 2011; Demario Brown, 1999; Abu Wilson, 1995; Loui Giammona, 1975).

On a more simple statistical note, Tyler has 978 yards on the season, a mere 22 shy of 1,000 yards. Crossing that would make Tyler the 19th Aggie to eclipse the 1K rushing mark and the first since Darwin Thompson in 2018. Project Tyler’s season average through the now 13 games USU will play and he could wind up with the highest total yards since Joey Demartino’s 1,221 in 2013.

The Aggies have leaned on Tyler all season. In an era where USU hasn’t relied heavily on just one running back, Tyler is on pace to have the most rushing attempts of any Aggie in the 21st century (though he’ll fall well short of Giammona’s program record of 329 set in 1975). When Tyler has been productive, Utah State has found success. Case in point, the Aggies are 5-0 this year when Tyler carries the ball at least 19 times. It’s not so much that the 19 carries from Tyler  is a magical win condition, more that a productive Tyler is the key to victory this season.

“All year long he’s taken a very mature approach to our process, what we need from him, what we expect from him. It was a struggle early, but he responded in such a huge way that you’ve seen the last month, he’s been as good as anybody out there. When is going and the offensive line is creating holes and he’s getting over 100 yards, gives us a great chance to win.”

Injuries are something that have hampered Tyler somewhat this year and did so last season. Tyler missed a game and saw fewer snaps in others because of minor wounds. Had he not missed some of those snaps he may very well have rushed for 1,000 yards last year. But injuries weren’t going to hold him back. Tyler said there was “nothing at all” that would stop him from playing.

“There was no quit in me, most definitely,” Tyler said. “I knew my number was going to be called.”

“He’s been beat up for a while and he just keeps showing up,” Anderson said. “I know he has a passion to play at the next level. He wants to show that he has that ability and part of that is showing that you can play through bumps and bruises. Availability is a big skillset they want to see, availability, dependability.”

The ability to wrap up a season like this with a bowl game is something Tyler will be able to treasure. And his teammates, whom Tyler has so often thanked and praised after his own good performances, will be able to enjoy that too. Utah State wouldn’t be bowl eligible were it not for Tyler’s production this season. It wouldn’t have turned around a 1-4 start to what may become a winning season without Tyler’s repeated 100-yard games. Over time, this season may become a lesser-remembered year, but what will be remembered about it are the things that leaders on this team did to turn it around. And Tyler is one of those leaders whose name will come up in conversations about the 2022 season.

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