for over 6,000 yards in a high school career is quite a milestone for any
running back, and there's a very good chance that Tyrell Sutton of Akron Hoban
High School could surpass that total by the end of this season, his junior
Sutton continues to post gaudy numbers week after week for the Knights, with his most recent effort resulting in 155 yards rushing and 107 yards receiving performance against the Ursuline Irish in week seven. Sutton scored twice on the ground against the Youngstown parochial school on runs of 12 and 4 yards, and once more through the air via a 70-yard swing pass out of the backfield. But it wasn't enough however as Hoban fell to Ursuline 25-21 in a driving rain to fall to 5-2 on the season.
For the third year now, Sutton has gone over the 1,000 yard rushing mark as Hoban's starting tailback. As a freshman, he rushed for 1,234 and 11 TD's; last year, he added 2,439 yards and 32 more scores to his career total; and he currently has 1,608 yards and 21 jaunts into the end zone (20 on the ground) with still three games to go in the regular season.
Despite posting such prodigious numbers that would ordinarily vault him right into the thick of any Mr. Football award conversation, there's usually a caveat that comes along with hearing Sutton's name.
"He's too small."
I wanted to see for myself.
Size doesn't lie, obviously, but it doesn't tell the whole truth either.
5-8, 181, Sutton plays much bigger than his God-given dimensions. That's the
impression I left with after seeing him against Ursuline.
After tweaking his ankle on the game's very first play, Sutton rambled untouched down the right sideline after hauling in a swing pass out of the backfield two plays later. He outraced every Irish defender, including fellow-hurdler Derrick Stewert, for a 70-yard score, his first through the air this season.
Not too bad of a first impression!
Sutton continued to impress throughout the game under rain-soaked conditions. On his four-yard touchdown run right before the half that gave the Knights a 14-0 lead at the intermission, Sutton took on a crashing Ursuline defender right at the line of scrimmage, spun out of the tackle, kept his balance, and ran in for the score.
Those two first half TD's by Sutton showcased the way that he has burned so many defenses in his two-plus seasons in the Hoban backfield.
"I'm kind of finesse and power both," is the way Sutton described his style to me after the game. "If I get to the outside, then I'm gone, but if I have to, I'll duck my shoulder. Kind of like Barry Sanders was at one point."
From my perspective, I would say that Sutton didn't seem to be as elusive as a runner that Sanders was, but he definitely didn't shy away from contact, and he flashed the speed to go the distance from any point on the field.
"Speed is always as important as everything else," Sutton said. "Speed ties in with quickness, agility, finesse and everything else."
Individual skills aside, Sutton credited his teammates and his brother for much, if not all, of his success as a running back.
"First thing's first, and I'm all about team first," he said. "Not one man can do everything on the team, so you've got to have team unity first in order to accomplish anything. And secondly, I think I get my style from my brother, Tony Sutton. He goes to Wooster, and he just had about 340 (yards) last week, and I just take everything after him."
But the bottom line with Sutton, who admitted that even he is amazed with the success that he's had while running with the football, is that he credits the guys up front for his production.
Sutton huddles up with his teammates
"The lines that I've had were incredible, including this year," he
said. "They're giving me big holes every single play, and all I have to do
is follow their blocks, and they're right there."
After this season is in the books, Sutton will have to be considered one of the top five talents returning in Ohio next year, and that should help to boost his status in the recruiting circles.
"I think I'm getting a good reception right now. I think people around the state are getting my name out there," he said. "But first thing is first, I have to finish out next year and then let the recruiting start."
Although he'd be happy, like his brother, to play at a school like Wooster, his sheer numbers that he'll end up with alone will likely land him at some big-time Division I football program. Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame and Penn State were the names of "running schools" that he said he would like to garner some attention from.
"Hopefully I'll go to a big college where people would actually know me. Somewhere where I'm comfortable," Sutton said. "But I'm really not focusing on that right now. I'm just trying to win the school a state championship; we're all trying to win the school a state championship and finish the season out strong."
But no matter how successful that Sutton is during his high school career, even if he helps his school win a state title, he'll likely have to continually contend with the size issue.
"That only motivates me," Sutton said. "People might say that I'm too small, but I think that I have the power and speed to back it up. Rumors like that only motivate me."