Texas Longhorns safety signee Tyler Owens won’t step foot on the Forty Acres for a few more weeks, but his name is already attracting attention behind his blazing track times.
Earlier this month at the Prosper Dan Christie Relays, Owens recorded a meet-best 10.29-second 100-meter dash time, which stands as the second-fasted time tracked in the entire state of Texas this year behind only Houston Strake Jesuit’s Matthew Boling (10.22).
TTFCA Boy's Track Athlete of the Week - Tyler Owens of Plano East [UT football signee] with the #1 FAT 100-M time in the U.S.: 10.29 -- @tkowens471 @Plano_Schools @PESHCC @SprintersCompen @InsideTxTrack @TXMileSplit @DMNGregRiddle [pic by Burnt Orange Nation] pic.twitter.com/SdG9Mkrl43— TTFCA (@TTFCA) March 13, 2019
In the words of The Longest Yard’s Inmate Unger, “He’s fast. He’s really, really fast.”
Unsurprisingly, the news of Owens’ mind-boggling track time gained some steam on social media, and ultimately, made its way into Texas head coach Tom Herman’s most recent media availability, in which he was asked if he’d noticed Owens’ efforts.
“He’s really fast for a big dude like that. It’s good to see” Herman said of the 6’2, 205-pound Owens. “He’s a ball of clay right now that we’re going to have a really fun time coaching, though, because he’s a great kid, comes from a great family, and just wants to improve daily. When you get him with that kind of tangibles, measurables, if you will, the sky’s the limit.”
If the sky’s the limit for the headliner of Texas’ 2019 defensive back haul, then the clouds began to clear for him last summer.
Late last July, Owens arrived in Austin as an under-the-radar recruit ranked outside of the top 75 in the state, per the 247Sports Composite. After posting praiseworthy testing times performing notably well overall while camping with Texas, Owens headed home with an offer in hand, and that marked only the beginning of his meteoric rise.
As a senior, Owens’ film and feel for the game finally caught up with his eye-opening athleticism, and suddenly, Owens went from merely an imposing force against the ground game to an increasingly instinctive safety with range to patrol large portions of the field.
Newly #HookEm commit DB Tyler Owens (@tkowens471) comes up with the easy INT. Covers a lot of ground quick and in a hurry @TylersDad5 | @PESHsports@FlightSkillz | @BON_SBNation pic.twitter.com/GFHs5Tei6X— J.Hamilton (@JoeHamilton__) September 29, 2018
“6’2”, 205 pounds. Ran a 10.34 100 meter dash, broad jumped 11’2,” Herman said of Owens during his Early National Signing Day press conference. “I think he ran a 4.37. His senior year, really caught up to those measurables. You could tell the light switch went on. Had a phenomenal senior year. He’s an athletic freak. We’re excited to see him develop. Coach Naivar and Coach Beck found him early. Talked to his high school coaches about his potential. We got him to camp and just absolutely fell in love with him.”
As Owens’ on-field impact and confidence soared to new heights, so, too, did the praise and publicity that followed the Plano East product.
Fewer than two full months from his July trip to Texas as an un-offered, under-the-radar recruit, Owens was offered the opportunity to become an All-American. Three short days later, he became a Longhorn, and though still regarded as a raw prospect at the time of his September pledge to Texas, Owens earned a reputation as a “freak’ athlete.”
That much became increasingly apparent as the stage and spotlight surrounding Owens’ senior season amplified.
A few weeks removed from his efforts at the All-American Bowl, 247Sports promoted Owens to five-star status in the outlet’s final ranking, slotting him as the second-best safety in the 2019 class; a leaps and bounds improvement over his initial placement as the No. 898 prospect in the Top247 rankings.
Burnt Orange Nation’s Joe Hamilton previously detailed why Owens’ rise in the rankings was well warranted:
“Owens has the versatility to play any position on the back-end of the defense and has the frame to potentially grow into an outside linebacker. He possesses striking speed and has that headhunter mentality when recognizing where the play is going.”
“Something else that stands out about Owens game is that he’s able to move in space exceptionally well while reading the quarterbacks eyes. Quarterbacks at the high school level are intimidated by Owens presence and shy away from throwing the ball his way because of the amount of ground he covers in a hurry.”
This suddenly-storied portion of Owens’ career will soon be in the rearview, though, seemingly as soon as it began.
Owens’ rise in the rankings won’t matter, nor will his All-American status. In the coming weeks, Owens will step foot on the Forty Acres as a big fish in a sea with plenty of other prized catches already patrolling the secondary. Despite that reality, though, the reality that Texas’ 2019 safety tandem is already set in stone in the form of former Freshman All-American Caden Sterns and Brandon Jones, who bypassed the NFL to return to lead the Longhorns defense, the reality that hard-hitting junior Chris Brown and former four-star talents DeMarvion Overshown and Montrell Estell are already vying for second-team reps, Owens isn’t deferring from the competition.
“I definitely can see myself getting in that mix,” Owens previously told BON of his thoughts on competing in a secondary that signed six All-Americans in 2018, and then another two in 2019, including Owens, himself. “Coach [Craig] Naivar was explaining to me how all of the guys in the secondary rotate and how they have six defensive backs on the field at times. It’s real smooth how they all work in.”
Texas’ safety room is a stocked cupboard, sure, but Naivar should have no problem molding and working the hyper-athletic ‘ball of clay’ that is Owens into the mix throughout the coming seasons.