Coach Speak: Ty Slanina

It was the last, and second-shortest of Ty Slanina's touchdown runs on the night. But that one play also served to show why the prospect is one of the state's best football players.

The recently-crowned Texas Class 2A Player of the Year handed the ball off, but the running back fumbled the ball backwards. Slanina, ever present, batted the ball forward, away from defenders, scooped it up on the next hop or two like a shortstop, accelerated past defenders and carried one into the end zone.

"You don't coach that," panned Brahmas coach Jerry Long, shaking his head.

But it should perhaps say more that Long said that not much that Slanina does anymore surprises him.

"We know that when we call his number, something big is going to happen," Long said. "For the most part, all year long, that was the case. He's been fun to watch."

And will be, now that Slanina takes his sub-4.4 second speed in the 40-yard dash to Fort Worth to play for the TCU Horned Frogs. Long said that TCU recruited Slanina as "an offensive athlete."

"He's an athlete, quote-unquote," Long said. "They'll use him at slot receiver, they'll put him in the Wildcat. He's that type of athlete that can play just about anywhere you want him to. So it'll be exciting."

Slanina flashed his tantalizing ability in limited attempts Thursday night as East Bernard jumped all over Corsicana Mildred 56-14. Slanina rushed just eight times (including the fumble recovery), but ran for 167 yards (that's 20.9 yards per carry) and four touchdowns, finding the end zone on runs of 35, 2, 76 and 12 yards. He also threw the ball twice for 32 yards and another touchdown.

"Just a special year for him and what a great kid," Long said. "He's been our starter since midway through his freshman year, he's had to battle some injuries over the years and he finally had a season this year where he stayed healthy. What an exceptional athlete, great leader, great kid, he's going to go on and do great things.

"A lot of it comes from a good family and being raised in that environment," Long said. "His mother's a great athlete, his uncle's a great athlete, so he gets some of that honestly. But [he has] just exceptional speed and exceptional athleticism, and there's not much else you can say."

Slanina has long been considered one of the state's best talents, rushing for 1,015 yards and 22 touchdowns on just 96 attempts as a sophomore while also throwing for seven more scores and picking off seven passes. But Long said Slanina took a further leap forward this year from a leadership aspect.

"He's always been a great athlete," Long said. "He's gotten a little stronger this year that's helped him grow a little bit. But [he's gained] just the confidence that he had in himself that he could put it all on his shoulders and take care of it. And boy, he put on a show tonight, didn't he?"

That's a show that Long think's he'll be able to continue providing at the next level.

"He's going to be huge for [TCU]," Long said. "I hope they let him get in there and get himself ready and get himself ready for that level. I think we'll be watching him doing great things one day."

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