Hoban's Sutton Keeping Options Open

Tyrell Sutton is a fan of the Midwest "Big Four" -- Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame, and Penn State, particularly the Wolverines and the Buckeyes. Right now though, he's keeping his options open to anyone.

With a pair of consecutive 2,000 yard seasons and just under 6,200 career rushing yards already on his resume, Tyrell Sutton of Akron Hoban High School is already one of the most prolific running backs ever in Ohio going into his senior season.

"I'm getting into the track mode right now and I'm just trying to get back into everything," Sutton said. "I'm just trying to do everything I can for next football season."

Along with Javon Ringer of Dayton Chaminade-Julienne High School, Sutton is considered to be the cream of Ohio's running back crop for the 2004 campaign. But despite the gaudy career rushing statistics, the 5-9, 191 pound Sutton is not the recruiting magnet one might expect.

"I attended the junior day at Michigan; that was the only one that I could actually make," Sutton said. "I've been a big fan of Michigan since I was little, so I just thought it would be the right time to visit a school for junior day."

Sutton claims that his boyhood affinity toward Michigan will not effect the way he approaches his recruitment.

"As of right now, everything is still open to me and I'm taking everything step by step," he said. "No one is really ahead right now. I'm just trying to work things out right now and determine what offer is best for me. But Ohio State is up there just as high as Michigan is. Everyone is equal right now and no one is ahead of anybody. That junior day was just a time for me to go up there and see what everything is about."

So just who does Sutton root for when Ohio State and Michigan hook up every November?

"Either/or really," he said. "They're both great teams and I wouldn't mind playing for either one of them."

But as of yet, neither of the two have offered him a football scholarship. In fact the offers have been few and far between thus far along the process.

"It's not really hectic right now," Sutton said. "I got offered from Northwestern, a full athletic scholarship from there, and Akron and Kent State, but nothing is really too hectic right now. Me and the coaches are just kind of waiting to see what happens and see where we can take it from there."

Obviously the NW offer is a reflection of his academic prowess in addition to what Sutton has done on the gridiron. He hasn't taken the ACT or SAT yet, but he just recorded a 3.8 GPA in his last academic quarter, and he thinks his core GPA is somewhere in the 3.5 or 3.6 area.

"I'd consider Ohio State, Penn State, Notre Dame and Michigan, anywhere that I can fit right in and have a chance to play," Sutton said. "I'd just want to come in and show my talents and hopefully I'll get a chance to play. I'd like to play in the Big Ten."

If you think Fred Russell, for instance, the diminutive running back from Iowa, you're thinking Tyrell Sutton.

"Darren Sproles is a short guy too, and he showcased his talents, and he showed what short guys are all about," Sutton said. "Most people probably won't take a chance on me because of the quote/unquote prototypical size, but I think my other attributes make up for that."

Sutton has a low center of gravity and he trains his powerful legs aggressively.

"I try to lift my legs as much as I can because I know I don't have it height-wise," he said. "So I just put all of the more focus on my legs."

And those legs are a vital part of his success in his track season where he's a mainstay for Hoban in the hurdles and he's a member of the 4X100 relay team.

"Track is of high importance to me," Sutton said. "It helps me with my endurance, my speed, my quickness, my foot control and everything that helps me out in football."

Why the hurdles?

"I've been a hurdler since the seventh grade and I grew up watching my brother (Tony Sutton) do the hurdles too," Sutton said. "So everything kind of plays off of my brother and what he's taught me."

Like his brother, who will be a senior at Wooster College next season, Sutton can kick in an extra gear on the gridiron when he needs to.

"If you look at some of my game films, I actually outran some of the people when it was necessary," he said. "I think speed is an attribute that's very important."

Other than having the prototypical height, Sutton possesses many of the important characteristics that most of the other big-time prep running backs have.

"I think I'm the kind of person that has every attribute out there," said Sutton, who will again run behind another top Hoban recruit, 6-8, 315 pound offensive tackle Shawn Glaser. "I have the vision, technique, speed, power, and I choose to use them all differently; it all depends on how the other team is."

From a statistical standpoint alone, Sutton, the future Ben Mauk of the running back position in Ohio - barring injury, is nearly a shoe-in to win the Mr. Football award next season.

"I think it's a pretty good thing that I have a chance to be recognized at the level that I am," Sutton said. "Obviously it helps get your name out there and it plays a big part in getting recognized for scholarship offers to college."

And Sutton plans on visiting a few of his top college campuses this summer.

"I'm pretty sure I'll be going back to Ohio State's camp and maybe Michigan's and Penn State's camps also," he said. "And maybe some other places like that too, just to try to get my name out there a little bit more."

Sutton has already attended a summer camp at Ohio State but doesn't believe that he's a priority of the Buckeyes at this time.

"They just got my cousin, Tony Pittman, so I'm happy for him about that," he said, "but I don't really know that they're pursuing me too much."

Does it disappoint him that his production as a durable three-year starter at Hoban hasn't yet caught the attention of the OSU brass?

"Somewhat, but not really," Sutton said. "But I don't like to base myself on just one particular school right now. I have one more season left, so I'll just see where it goes from there after my senior season."

But even Sutton himself can't explain the incredible success as a runner that he's already experienced through his junior campaign.

"It just means that I've been taking all of the right steps so far," he said. "I don't want to decrease anything I've done to this point; I just want to increase it. Everything that I've learned comes from my brother and my family and other running backs that I've watched. It's just a great experience to take so much from everybody and be successful because of it."

As a freshman Sutton rushed for 1,226 yards then added 2,439 more in his sophomore season. Last fall he recorded 2,532 yards and 33 touchdowns and he'll enter his senior campaign with 6,197 yards and 77 TDs in his career. Is he impressed with what he's done thus far?

"Oh yeah," he admitted. "You don't see too many running backs getting over 2,000 yards in two seasons. It is kind of mind-boggling."

And now Sutton has his sight set on being the most prolific prep running back to ever come out of Ohio.

"Personally I'm shooting for the Ohio (career) record," he said. "If I can (reach it) I'll do my best but first comes first, I would like to get a state championship for the school. Team first."

Sounds just like a Jim Tressel type of recruit.

"Ohio State is a great school and if they give me a chance I just might take it," he said. "I don't mind proving myself if I have to."

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