Sutton: Ohio's Most Prolific Running Back Ever

Friday night, Tyrell Sutton is slated to be honored in his final regular-season game for becoming the all-time leading rusher in Ohio high school history when the Hoban Knights host the Warren G. Harding Raiders.

Every game and every carry just adds to his legacy.

Tyrell Sutton of Archbishop Hoban in Akron is already the most prolific running back to ever carry a football in Ohio high school history. And he's not done yet.

In the 13-7 victory over Walsh this past weekend, Sutton rushed for 160 yards and scored two touchdowns, one coming on the ground and one in the air. Through nine games this year, Sutton has rushed for 2,388 yards and scored 29 touchdowns (27 on the ground) for the 8-1 Knights.

Combine those statistics with his career numbers that he had amassed in his three previous years as the starting tailback at Hoban and you come up with 8,585 yards with 106 touchdowns, and his current streak of 100-yard rushing games now stands at 35.

Sutton, of course, credited others when he addressed his most recent accomplishment, which is what he typically does.

"I think I'll appreciate it more after the season but it's not all about me right now," he said. "The way that I see it, it's our team's accomplishment over the past four years. Every single lineman and every single fullback and wide receiver who's ever blocked for me gets credit for this. The only difference is that my name goes on it. But every one knows that whoever has contributed to it is a part of this, they are a big part of history now."

He broke Ohio's career rushing mark in typical Sutton fashion as well. It happened on a 57-yard touchdown run during the first quarter against Canton Central Catholic two weeks ago.

"I ran right behind John Blike, my fullback, he led me on a great run," Sutton said. "He had the best block in the world and I just followed him. He just blew the hole right open."

A four-year starter now after taking over in the backfield for his brother Tony Sutton (now a record-setter at the College of Wooster) at Hoban, Tyrell has always had to play through the stereotype of him being too small. But the 5-9, 190-pound Sutton thinks that his size has only made his accomplishments all the more special.

"I think it is special because all of the Ohio State's and all of the Michigan's of the world want all of these huge backs," he said. "But for a smaller guy like me to come out and break the Ohio rushing record, it says something for us small guys, I think so, in a huge way."

Just the durability needed to accomplish such a feat is remarkable in itself. Over his entire career, Sutton has started every game that he has played in except for his very first one as a freshman. And in that game Sutton came in and rushed for 140 yards and he has been the starter ever since. He only missed playing in one game during his career, against Holy Name in his freshman year, but he still dressed for that contest.

"I may have gotten injured before but I've come right back in the game," Sutton said. "It's a team effort and I feel as though my teammates would do the same thing for me and for us if one of them went down."

Hoban sits atop of one of toughest and most competitive regions in Division III. After a hard-fought victory against Walsh Jesuit, now ranked fourth in the same region behind defending state champion Cleveland Benedictine and Notre Dame Cathedral Latin, the Knights will take on Division I Warren G. Harding as a final tune-up for the playoffs.

"What's left for us is a state championship," Sutton said. "We feel as though all we have to do is play our football the way that we have the last few weeks and we will be unstoppable. We all know that every team we play against is going to be keying on me and so everyone else has to step up.

"We've had one of the most demanding schedules in D-III and we're not overlooking anyone. We're not looking ahead to the playoffs at all even though we've clinched a playoff spot."

The Knights could actually face teams like Walsh (again), Benedictine, Chaminade-Julienne, and Watterson - who beat them this year at Hoban.

"We welcome any challenge just like any challenger welcomes us," Sutton said. "We're not looking past anyone and we're not comparing scores at all. We're not doing anything to overlook anyone."

After the playoffs, Sutton will turn his attention to his next career as a student-athlete at Northwestern. He verbally committed there in the summer so he could concentrate on having a productive senior campaign.

"I think the next thing for me to do is to prove myself in college," Sutton said. "Although I'm not there yet, I just want to let all of these guys know that they all had an opportunity to get me on their team but, unfortunately, they decided to take a pass on me. So I feel as though Northwestern got a steal and I just have to make everyone wish that they had gone after me in the first place."

What exactly irritates Sutton the most about hearing some of the reasons that people say why he isn't being recruited by more schools?

"It irritates me the most that they say that I'm too small to play at the college level," he said. "It irritates me the most when they say, ‘He's a great high school back but he won't make it in college.' That's the thing that bothers me the most when all of these guys say I can't make it at that level because of my height or my size."

Some people have pointed to his 4.59-second time in the 40-yard dash this summer for being a reason why the big-time schools are shying away from him.

"That's not a true reflection of me at all. I have what I think is game speed," Sutton said. "I did get caught against Ursuline by Derrick Stewart, he's a fast guy. But 4.59 is running by myself. In a game you're never running by myself, you're always running away from someone. So maybe running by myself I do run a 4.59 but in game speed I probably run a 4.3 or 4.4."

He understands that recruiters look at the numbers on paper as much or even more than the game videos.

"They all look at all the numbers on paper, I think that is what the recruiters go after the most," Sutton said. "If you have the numbers to their liking then they'll pursue you. I think game tapes and real life should prove that wrong."

For whatever reason, Sutton is still not being looked at by any of the top-rated programs in the Big Ten or around the country. It's been Northwestern and Northwestern only for the longest time. Could all of those schools be wrong about Sutton?

"Like I said, it's their loss," he said. "I feel as though I am one of the biggest and the baddest although I may not be size-wise. I'm a player that can get it done for you.

"Northwestern is a great program and I feel as though if other teams wanted me, although I did verbal, they would have still tried to pursue after me. If recruiting is like they say, then they should know that a verbal is a verbal and that a verbal really means nothing and that they can still pursue you."

And even after breaking the Ohio rushing record Sutton is still not getting any nibbles from the recruiters.

"None," said Sutton,a cousin of Ohio State's freshman running back Antonio Pittman, "not even now."

The same logic obviously applies to the Mr. Football award in Ohio as far as Sutton sees it.

"They all talk about (Javon) Ringer and they all say that the Sports Illustrated curse is what put me in the running, but I feel as though I've always been in the running," Sutton said. "They've all been saying that Javon Ringer was number one and I don't know if I used it for gas or not, but it just seemed that everyone kind of overlooked me although I have been doing it for four years. Like they're saying, ‘Hey he's only 5-9, 190 so he's not going to go anywhere.' "

Ringer sustained a knee injury on the very week that he would be in Sports Illustrated (Oct. 18 issue) ‘Faces in the Crowd' and is out for the season now.

"I feel bad for him. It's a horrible tragedy that I wish upon no one," Sutton said. "He's a great player down in Dayton and he can go anywhere he wants. I wish him well."

Regardless of the respect or lack of it that he's given by the masses in Ohio or even elsewhere, Sutton couldn't be happier about the season. And the best might be yet to come.

"It's been a great year already," he said. "It's a great feeling to be playing like we are right now and we've all improved so much over four years, it's unbelievable."

And according to Sutton, the Mr. Football award will take care of itself.

"That's in the back of my mind but that comes after the team," he said. "First I want a state championship. I believe in it 110 percent. I believe in it whole-heartedly."

And the people who follow Akron Hoban whole-heartedly believe in Sutton, 110 percent.

Sutton has surpassed 2,000 yards rushing in three seasons now.

Sutton rushed for over 300 yards and almost single-handedly brought Hoban back from the jaws of defeat to beat St. Vincent-St. Mary.

Sutton rushed for over 500 yards and scored eight touchdowns in a rout against Youngstown Ursuline.

Sutton ran for 160 rugged yards in this 13-7 victory against Walsh Jesuit.

Sutton took on Mike Chambers (#12) of Walsh on more than on occasion.

Sutton didn't break a long one for a score but he ran hard all game. He still scored twice in the game to give him 29 TDs in all on the campaign.

It usually takes more than one defender to bring Sutton down.

Sutton's uncle proudly wears the colors of Northwestern, the only major school to take an interest Sutton.

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