Tyler Owens went from being afraid of grass to a star on the field. It started when he was three years old, when he was afraid of grass and plants.
The first sport his parents put him in was soccer, though, and it was on that field that Owens overcame his fear and realized he was fast. Like, real fast.
“I didn’t like falling on the ground,” Owens admitted. “I started to realize I was fast when they started calling me ‘Turbo.’”
Owens, a four-star safety from Plano East, enrolls at Texas this summer. First, he’ll be in town this weekend at the Texas Relas, competing in the 100-meters and the 200-meter relay. Tyler’s first race of the Texas Relays takes place Friday at 1:40 p.m. when he competes in the 100-meter dash, which is his best race and a race he’s posted a time of 10.29 earlier in track season.
It’s his rare combination of size and speed that took Owens from relative unknown recruit to a top safety prospect. It was a whirlwind fall for him.
“It was awesome to get the recognition I worked for and knowing that doesn’t happen often made it special,” Owens said. “I didn’t get out of the elite camps and that hurt my stock. The schools saw what I was about.”
Owens picked up a Texas offer after a strong showing at an on-campus camp on July 29. The 6-2, 205-pounder pledged on Sept. 24 over 15 other schools. He eventually earned an invitation to the All-America Bowl in San Antonio to conclude his prep career alongside future teammates Bru McCoy, De’Gabriel Floyd and Jordan Whittington. It was a reward for a life filled with competition. Football was a family tradition.
“We told Tyler that he could play whatever sport he wanted,” said Tyler’s dad, Ed. “He said, ‘Dad, I want to play what you played’ and from then on, football was the top sports priority for him. He gravitated to the contact. He was making kids cry in Pop Warner.”
Not bad for a kid once afraid of falling on the ground.
“I changed completely when he put me in football,” Tyler said. “I started to like the thump.”
Owens’ father played cornerback at North Texas and was invited to training camp by the Houston Oilers. Owens himself bounced around positions his entire career before settling on safety late in his high school career. Such is the life for the best athlete on the field. That’s left Tyler admittedly raw. Texas head coach Tom Herman called his future safety “a ball of clay” at a press conference in spring practice.
“I never knew what to train him in,” Ed Owens said. “I always thought he’d be a corner, but he played wherever the team needed him to play growing up. I’m his biggest critic. I noticed early that he loved to hit and was extremely fast. He found a home at safety.”
Owens is focused on track. The two-sport athlete thinks competing in track helps him more than spending his time playing 7-on-7 or any other hobby he could adopt.
“My goal is to win everything I’m competing in and track helps me develop my speed, which is a big part of my game and an advantage over other players,” he said.
Football will take his focus in the summer when he enrolls and begins learning under safeties coach Craig Naivar. Consider Owens more like a B.J. Foster than Caden Sterns. He’s a big-bodied safety with a penchant for the big hit. He’ll enjoy the Joker position, which should allow him to patrol the field with his speed and blitz the quarterback.
“Football gave me that feeling that I didn’t get with any other sport,” Owens explained. “Those butterflies and being able to be as rough as I wanted to be with other people.”