By Ernie Gonzalez:
It was a Saturday afternoon barbecue at his father’s house in Compton, California. Seven-year-old Tyler Nevens was next door at the time, throwing around a football with a next-door neighbor. Moments later, gunshots rang out, killing Tyler’s father Sherman Nevens.
Today, nearly ten years later, Tyler rushed for nearly 6,000 yards in his high school career and is committed to play running back at San Jose State next fall.
“Anybody can be what they want to be, It doesn’t matter where they come from, what their background is, or whatever struggles that they’ve had throughout their life.” Nevens said.
The 6’0, 205 pounder from Hacienda Heights holds his father at heart, but wears his mother on his eye blacks during most games. Under one eye he writes ‘Hi’ and the under the other reads ‘Mom,’ dedicating all of his high-school success to her.
During his sophomore year at Los Altos High School in 2014, Nevens made it his goal to rush for 2,000 yards in one season before he graduated. He fell short during that year as well as his junior season.
It was his senior year when he broke through. Nevens rushed for a school record 2,533 total yards, averaged 180.9 YPG and scored an eyebrow-raising 40 touchdowns leading the Conquerors to the Division 6 CIF Championship game.
“It really feels good when you set a goal for yourself, go through all the hard work — all the struggles, and it really makes me feel better not just as an athlete, but as a person,” Nevens said.
The Los Altos all-time-leading rusher recalled when Spartans’ head coach Brent Brennan made his home visit in January, noting the rarity of his character.
“There are some coaches who just care about winning, and there are coaches who care about coaching,” Nevens said.
Along with fellow 2017 SJSU running back commit Jerrell Alberty of McClymonds High School, Nevens is joining a backfield consisting of will-be sophomores Zamore Zigler and Marcus Roberson who both saw action last season, as well as a healthy Thomas Tucker.
“I want to help San Jose State reach that peak,” Nevens said.“I’m really excited about the energy that is circulating up there.”
It was just two seasons ago when another Tyler, Tyler Ervin, set SJSU’s single-season rushing record with 1,601 yards.
“I definitely want to be the next Tyler Ervin, but soon, I want others saying they want to be the next Tyler Nevens,” Nevens said.
Nevens is a built back, who can switch gears and has the ability to string a couple of jump cuts on the same run.
Nevens’ favorite thing to eat before games are Skittles, but says he’s not ‘Beast Mode,’ aka former Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch. As for a nickname, that will be up to the fans.
You can’t teach humility and Nevens understands that.“If you have the will-power, the integrity, and stay humble about it — that’s where the positives will come out,” Nevens said.