February 14, 2009

Tyler feeling back to normal

It's amazing how much can change in just one year. If you need proof, just ask USC running back Marc Tyler.

During the 2007 season, Tyler didn't have the confidence he possessed on his way to becoming one of the country's top running backs in the country at Oaks Christian in Westlake, Calif.

After breaking his left leg in a game during his senior season, Tyler struggled to find his way back onto the practice field.

But following a relatively healthy 2008, Tyler's feeling a déjà vu. Gone are the timid running and the uncertainty. Toughness and swagger have returned.

"When (the injury) first happened, I didn't think it would be all that bad," Tyler said. "But, then it kept hurting and kept hurting. I lost some confidence. Then, I sat and watched all the guys around the country that were I my class go out and play.

"Your confidence falls, and it humbles you to watch guys. But in the end, it makes you better."

But in his second year on campus, Tyler closed the year strong and built momentum towards 2009.

After carrying just one time in three of USC's first four games, Tyler had to wait his turn while he nursed a sore quadriceps muscles. But when he came back, Tyler showed USC fans just why he was a five-star prospect.

"I got my feet wet last year, especially down the stretch, playing against some of our rivals," he said. "I think that gave me a lot of confidence coming into this spring."

Tyler's coming out party came against Washington, when he rushed for 85 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.

With some new faces in new places on the offensive staff, Tyler's ready to continue growing this offseason in Chris Carlisle's strength and conditioning program.

"It's exciting being healthy," Tyler said. "I've got the chance to show some new coaches on offense what I can do this spring. The workouts have been going good. I've been going at 6, and I'm feeling good.

"I feel like I did in high school, confidence-wise. Right now I feel good. I feel like I did back then. That's helped me a lot."

Tyler said he does have some specific goals for himself in the weight room. In an effort to become more explosive, he's trying to create more burst in certain lifts like squats.

"I'm focused on a little bit of everything. I think I can improve in every area," Tyler said. "One big thing is getting the left side of my body stronger, down in my leg."

Tyler and the USC offense return almost everyone from last year's team, but without Mark Sanchez on campus, new leaders will need to emerge.

Tyler said that process has already begun.

"Being out there with the guys, throwing the ball around and catching it feels good. We lost Mark, and he was a big leader for our offense," he said. "But, we've still got guys like Damian Williams and Jeff Byers leading us. That's a big deal for us."

And it's a big deal that Tyler has settled in, and he's ready to keep progressing.

"It takes a little while," he said, "but I feel like I'm getting better everyday."


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