The 2011 football season has been one of great success so far for both Jevon Tyree and his South Brunswick High School Vikings. Ranked fifth in the state according to MaxPreps.com, the Vikings sit atop the GMC Red Division with a 3-0 record and have already recorded momentous wins over rivals Sayreville and Piscataway.
Tyree, a senior, embodies versatility as a star player on one of the best high school squads in the state of New Jersey.
Through three games, the running-back/cornerback leads the team in both touchdowns and interceptions, along with handling kick-off duties and returning kicks and punts.
“He’s such a great athlete,” said head coach Rick Mantz. “When he gets his hands on the football, he has the potential to take it to the house.”
Tyree has been acknowledged as “one of the top stars in Central Jersey,” by MaxPreps.com’s Tom Lemming, who calls him active, tough and aggressive in his scouting report on Tyree.
“Everything I do is fast and disciplined, because that’s all it takes, getting after it every play," Tyree said.
During the Vikings’ 28-7 rout of powerhouse Piscataway earlier this season, Tyree intercepted a pass in the endzone and nearly took it the distance for a score, before being brought down in Piscataway territory.
“You hear people use the word ‘game-changer,’ and you look at that pick he had against Piscataway,” Mantz said. “He turns that thing around, that’s a game-changer.”
Part of what makes the Vikings such a formidable force in the GMC Red Division is how well-rounded they are as a unit. The option-attack they employ offensively relies heavily on carrying out proper fakes and each player fulfilling their responsibilities on every play.
“Part of our culture is unselfishness,” Mantz said. “He’s giving his buddies opportunities because he knows his role, and he carries out his fakes. He also doesn’t need 25 or 30 touches a game because by week six he would be all banged up.”
The “team-first” attitude can be applied to Tyree as a person as well.
“He’s a great kid,” Mantz said. “Very unselfish, humble, and he’s extremely talented.”
Tyree’s contributions on special teams are also a key component to the Vikings’ success. He acknowledges that his favorite part of the game is when he has an opportunity to return a kick.
“When I see I have an opening, there’s nothing like that,” Tyree said. “You get an opportunity to use your speed, and when I see that open space, it’s like the best feeling in the world.”
Opponents and fans alike have noticed the explosiveness of Tyree when he’s on the field each week. But the looks don’t stop there. Tyree has received 14 offers from various colleges around the country, and he continues to narrow down his choices.
“I could see myself at Maryland, Georgia Tech, or UConn (University of Connecticut),” Tyree said. “They definitely want me to play corner, but they’ve also seen what I can do with the ball and Georgia Tech and UConn said they could see me as a wide receiver or running-back.”
Tyree's varied skill set is what makes him such a valauble commodity at the next level, according to Mantz.
“Colleges love him because of his versatility,” he said. “They see him as a corner, because they realize the value of guys that can cover, plus he has the potential to return kicks and punts.”
Although playing college football is an important goal, Mantz notes that the sport is not the only reason for accepting a scholarship.
“He and his family will make a good decision about where he goes,” Mantz said. “It’s really about getting an education, and football is just a small part of the equation.”
Family is an aspect of Tyree’s life that has proven instrumental in his success both as an athlete and a person. He has an enthusiastic cheering section at each game throughout the season.
It will certainly be an adjustment when Tyree reaches the next level, as there will likely be games that his family may have to miss due to travel concerns.
“Without my family, I couldn’t do anything,” Tyree said. “If they weren’t at a game, I probably wouldn’t play that good. I’m going to have to get used to it, though, not seeing them on the sideline at every game.”
Regardless of what uniform Tyree puts on next season, it’s certain that his rare combination of athletic prowess and unselfishness will propel him to success both on and off the field.
The Vikings have a crucial showdown with the only other undefeated team in the Red Division in their next game. They will play at (3-0) Woodbridge on Sunday, Oct. 9, at 1 p.m.