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Notre Dame Football

Speedy Tyree racing into key role for Notre Dame

September 24, 2021
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Depending the breed, the average speed of a dog is somewhere between 15 and 20 miles per hour.

This is pertinent to Notre Dame football.

Long before he was competing for Virginia High School League state track championships, and similarly well before he was single-handedly changing games on the gridiron, Chris Tyree was flashing elite speed in the neighborhood.

“Jokingly, I still remember our neighbors when Chris was about 4 years old, and our neighbors had a new puppy running across the yard,” said Richard Tyree, father of Notre Dame's sophomore tailback. “It was chasing Chris, and Chris just took off.

“Sometimes you see it, and there's a little faster than normal. We just thought he was scared and that's why he was running so fast.”

Nope.

Tyree's speed is elite. It's been obvious since he was a freshman at Thomas Dale High School in tiny Chester, Virginia, just south of Richmond, and finishing runner-up in the state's 100-meter dash to a Miami-bound sprinter.

It's been stamped upon the national college football scene this month, after Tyree gathered a swing-pass from Notre Dame freshman quarterback Tyler Buchner and blistered the Notre Dame Stadium turf at almost 22 miles per hour, per GPS metrics.

The play covered 55 yards, part of the Irish's comeback-win against Toledo, and matched Tyree's rushing touchdown.

“Really? I had no idea,” Tyree said of his electronically documented haste. “I did not know. We do have the GPS but I don't really ask about it. I just know I have to run fast.”

Tyree's speed largesse has registered for his Notre Dame defensive teammates. It's an area where the Irish are expected to have an edge Saturday against Big Ten resident Wisconsin in the latest installment of the Shamrock Series.

Kick is noon inside Chicago's Soldier Field (FOX has the broadcast).

As the Irish have battled to get their running game untracked, Tyree has nabbed the attention of his teammates with his speed.

Even on the opposite side of the ball.

“He's a gamer. When he's got the ball in his hand, he's going to go make something happen,” said veteran Irish safety Houston Griffith. “You've seen him the last few games, he's scored and he's a real burner. He's one of the fastest players in college football. He's one of the guys I respect a lot.

“He's always working hard, keeps his head up. He just works and works and works. I just think Chris is a great back and I can't wait to see him in the backfield with Kyren Williams and the rest of those running backs.”

Tyree also has helmed Notre Dame's kickoff-return unit for most of the past 15 games.

Wherever he lines up, Tyree could be a key factor against the Badgers as the 5-foot-9.5-inch, 190-pounder continues acclimating to the Irish offense.

“I've gotten really good at my eye-consistency and where I need to look,” Tyree said of having slowed down the game and increased his comfort in the offense. “Compared to last year, just looking back on my freshman year, the game was really fast for me and I was just relying on my instincts. But this year, just working with Coach (Lance) Taylor and throughout my time, I've gotten really good at understanding what I need to look at and what I need to look for. That's been really helpful for me so far.”

How does that translate to the field?

“You understand what or have an idea for what is going to happen post-snap,” Tyree said. “So just having an idea and having a plan for what you need to do is really helpful.”

Tyree long has been a central figure in game plans for his coaches – be it football, track or even on the diamond.

Yes, Tyree years ago found a way to flash his elite speed on the diamond. It soon translated to the prep gridiron as well – where he started his career as a defensive back and wide receiver before he became a nationally coveted running back recruit.

And, at last, it made a believer of his parents – and skeptics in the community.

Especially after their son logged 5 a.m. workouts to which he drove himself, then went to school and logged practice hours after classes ended.

“I think probably the biggest memory I have where I think most people realized, 'Oh, Chris is legit' was his his freshman year,” Richard Tyree said. “A lot of people in our area, there weren't a lot of national names at that time. Now there are, TreVeyon Henderson (Ohio State running back), Chris Tyree, they now are national names. At first, people in our area were like, 'Oh, he's overhyped.'”

Tyree stamped his arrival to the high school gridiron with a kickoff-return for a touchdown in his very first game. A couple weeks later, against rival Meadowbrook High School, Tyree raced right into must-see status.

“The next week, a couple teams kicked away from him,” Richard Tyree said of the response to his son's first varsity game. “A couple other coaches still doubted him, and said, 'We''ll just kick it to him, we're good enough.'

“So the very first kick of the game, he runs that back and the score is 7-0. He was starting at corner at the time, they tested him. He got two picks that game. And he also ran the winning touchdown in the fourth quarter. So that's the game they said maybe he really is what they say he is.”

 
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