Tulane’s Tyjae Spears continues pushing his way up NFL Draft boards

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Tyjae Spears, Tyrick James
(Photo: Parker Waters)

Hardly any player increased his draft stock in the Senior Bowl more than Tulane running back Tyjae Spears.

To classify him as the best running back in the class doesn’t sound far-fetched to those who have watched Tulane on a regular basis, but those who were a bit later to the party raved all week long about what they’d been missing.

Spears, who finished out the 2022 season with 1,581 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns on 229 carries looked like a versatile player who could more than efficiently do everything asked of a running back at the NFL level and was so impressive out of the backfield that it isn’t a stretch to say that he was better than a good amount of the wide receivers themselves at the event.

In Mobile, Spears tipped the scale at nine pounds heavier than his listed weight, something that caught the eye of some of the skeptics about his frame and helped a great deal with any questions there may have been surrounding his durability at the next level.

He says he put the additional weight on during the offseason that has come about this solid efforts in pre-draft training.

Spears’ mission in the showcase was simple.

“I (just want to show) that I can make plays and that I can play against anybody. I’m showing them that I can be a consistent playmaker, a solid all-around player who is effective in the passing game, running game, catching game but also on special teams too.”

Playing in the Tulane offense is something he says he believes translates well to the NFL.

“It helps me a lot because I was one of the main guys and they gave the ball to me a lot in a lot of different ways. In order to be an effective running back, you’ve got to be abloe to take care of the ball in multiple ways in different schemes.”

In addition to having the opportunity to wow scouts with the cuts he made, his elusiveness, speed and ability to be used in many ways, Spears also says he enjoyed the human aspect of getting to meet and play with so many different names from across the country.

“It’s been a fun process. Those players are essentially just like you,” Spears said. “They have great personalities and they’re great to be around. I’ve been training with one of the Pittsburgh linebackers, one of the best players here at the Senior Bowl and we’ve been training together everyday. Building relationships like that has been very valuable and it’s just been amazing to be here with people from all over.”

Now reasonably expected to be no later than a Day 2 pick, it’s been a case of dreams to reality for Spears after he started off the season as a player who didn’t receive much national attention and could be considered one of the most underrated, regardless of position.

And he couldn’t have been more essential to helping the Green Wave put together the most remarkable turnaround in college football history as they went from 2-10 to 11-2.

“A season like that, you think you’ll never move on (from the high of it),” Spears said. “t’s kind of hard leaving Tulane and adjusting to something new. but it’s amazing to go down in the history books forever. So I’m just living in the moment and appreciating the opportunity in front of me.”

While Spears moves on to the next level and prepares to make a similar impact in the NFL, he wants people to keep an eye on Tulane in what seems to be the dawn of an incredible new era in Uptown.

“With Fritz staying long-term, this means that this team is going to win a lot of games. There might be people out there that think this team is going to drop back off moving forward, but I can promise you that they are not.”

Spears also has high hopes for a running backs room that will continue in 2023 without him in it.

“They’ve got some hard workers in Ashaad Clayton-Johnson, Iverson Celestine and the other guys. I assure you those guys are working hard and they’re going to be great. I hope they surpass me. Somebody’s got to take the lead and I’ve got confidence in those guys and everyone else over there.”

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Crissy Froyd

CCS Columnist

Crissy Froyd is a sports reporter of roughly nine years who graduated from LSU and has spent time at USA TODAY SMG, NBC Sports and the Fan Nation network on Sports Illustrated. She specializes in quarterback analysis and covers the SEC and college football across the state of Louisiana in addition to working with several college quarterbacks across the nation.

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