RB Chris Tyree, 5-10, 185; Chester (Va.) Thomas Dale
The numbers: Tyree rushed for 655 yards and nine touchdowns on 71 carries and caught 13 passes for 184 yards and two scores in nine games as a senior. He missed four games after aggravating a middle-grade high ankle sprain. The Knights (9-4) ended their season with a 29-7 loss to Oscar Smith in the Virginia High School League 6A quarterfinals.
The rankings: 247Sports — Four stars, No. 2 APB, No. 137 overall. Rivals — Four stars, No. 4 APB, No. 78 overall.
First impression: The Irish filled their biggest need on offense by signing Tyree, who clocked a 4.37 40-yard dash at The Opening Finals in July. His speed alone should earn him decent playing time in year one. Tyree's senior season and week at The Opening Finals were considered for this film study.
Strengths: Tyree's brilliance in space goes beyond just his straight line speed. His impressive start-stop ability and overall lateral quickness makes tackling him difficult. He’s capable of reaching full speed after just a couple steps. Tyree juxtaposes this suddenness with solid patience and vision. He shows a keen sense of his surroundings and what lies ahead, making him highly effective on zone runs. Instead of rushing through the process, which can be tempting with that speed, Tyree seems to hit the right holes, cut to the correct spots and follow the proper blockers once everything in front of him develops. Tyree’s 38-inch vertical leap, hands and overall athleticism will suit him well as an opportunistic slot receiver. Kick returns also come naturally to him.
Proof of prowess: (M 0:00; H 0:35) The short-area burst and quickness Tyree brings are apparent on these two plays. In play No. 1, Tyree evaded the incoming defensive end with a subtle hop outside and then accelerated. He cut outward one more time to find the edge and move the sticks. Play No. 2 displays even more of Tyree’s ability to create from nothing. Before running into multiple defenders on the left side, Tyree changed direction and burst through the middle. He then decelerated in an instant to direct his way through traffic for a first down.
(LB 0:12; LB 1:14) These plays give a closer look at how Tyree balances his patience and feel with explosiveness. One of Thomas Dale’s more successful plays last season can be seen on LB 1:14. By design, Tyree would fake a perimeter run then cut inside after blocks developed. He demonstrated how to execute this play by using the proper timing and burst. He even evaded a couple tacklers downfield for good measure. Play No. 1 consists of more improvised moves and thinking from Tyree. He avoided a tackle for a loss by sensing a defender off the edge almost immediately after receiving the hand-off. Tyree located the correct running lane just as it opened.
Bonus (D 0:00; H 0:14; C 1:40): These plays indicate Tyree’s prowess beyond the running back position. Tyree’s quickness makes him an intriguing option to exploit certain mismatches as a slot receiver. His body control, hands and athleticism, as seen on his one-handed catch in D 0:00, show he possesses the other tools required to produce in that role. His explosiveness in space could also be used at kick returner, which can be seen in the final two plays. C 1:40 shows more of Tyree’s straight line speed and burst. Most of Tyree's best attributes are featured in H 0:14, particularly his vision and ability to weave through traffic with cuts and sudden movements.
Competition level: Thomas Dale competes in the highest division (VHSL 6A) of a state rife with talent. Nine and six Virginians in the 2020 recruiting class garnered a four-star rating from 247Sports and Rivals, respectively. The Knights squared off against three of Virginia’s top 50 teams, per MaxPreps: Hopewell (No. 4), Oscar Smith (No. 6) and Dinwiddie (No. 49).
Hopewell (15-0), the VHSL 3A champion in 2019, dominated a Tyree-less Thomas Dale squad 44-7. Oscar Smith and its three-star linebacker now signed to Old Dominion, Malcolm Britt, held Tyree to 55 yards on nine attempts and one reception for 11 yards. Tyree garnered zero carries in a limited role against Dinwiddie and its three-star defensive tackle signed to Eastern Carolina, D’Anta Johnson. But he still caught four passes for 63 yards and a touchdown in the 46-44 victory.
Tyree inflicted the most damage when healthy. He accounted for 139 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries with two catches for 25 yards in the season opener. Watch Cosby’s Ethan West (No. 5) in that 58-0 Thomas Dale victory. The three-star linebacker, who enrolled a semester early at North Carolina, looked lost at times when defending Tyree. After returning from a two-game absence in the middle of the season, Tyree turned eight carries into 153 yards and three scores in a 75-12 win over Meadowbrook.
Left to prove: Whether Tyree can develop into a complete package remains the biggest question. He has yet to pass-block or run between the tackles at a high level and showed little improvements in those areas as a senior. Will Tyree be able to handle a featured workload of 20-25 touches? His smaller size and previous injuries suggest durability and physicality could be an issue. Will substantial weight and muscle gains impact Tyree’s elite speed?
Rivals and 247Sports pondered similar questions before plunging Tyree 35 and 76 overall spots, respectively, in their final updated rankings of the 2020 class. These concerns shouldn’t keep Tyree off the field as a true freshman, however. Even if Tyree never becomes a physical, every-down running back, he could still seize a role that fills a need and brings significant impact.