From high school to college, Tyjae Spears continues to ride the Green Wave to new heights.
The former Ponchatoula High standout running back made a strong showing in Week One of Tulane’s 27-24 win over South Alabama in Mobile on Saturday in front of a nationally televised audience on ESPN 2.
The freshman earned 105 yards on 11 carries and totaled 153 all-purpose yards in the game that was won thanks to a second half offensive rally. Spears’s longest run of the game was a 36-yard carry.
For Spears, who can be a threat both on the ground and as a receiver in the passing game, there is potential to shine in Coach Willie Frtiz’s run-heavy offensive system. Tulane finished the game with a total of 203 yards on the ground, which makes it 54 straight games the program’s offense totaled over 100 yards.
“We love everything about him,” Fritz said in a conference call with reporters Monday. “He has incredible work effort, he’s tough, and he will block anybody. He really had a hard nose showing in camp.”
Fritz said the 5-foot-10 and 190-pound Spears is more physical than what most opponents would assume he would be judging by stature. In camp, Spears never shied away from contact, he said.
“There were times we had linebackers shooting in the gaps and he took on the assignment as lead blocker,” Fritz said. “He’s not afraid of anyone, and he was taking out linebackers. I mean, knocking them on the ground.”
In 2019, Spears showed glimmers of promise before he was redshirted to retain eligibility. In a Sept. 14 game against Mississippi State, Spears earned 89 yards on 8 carries. On Oct. 26 he totaled 60 yards against Navy and later ran for 31 yards in a game against SMU.
Spears will be back in action this Saturday when Tulane returns home to face Navy at 11 a.m. In compliance with the City of New Orleans’ orders to stay in Phase 2 of COVID-19 reopening, there will be no fans in attendance.