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Calvin Tyler Jr. first started developing a relationship with then-Oregon State graduate assistant coach and former Utah State star quarterback Chuckie Keeton four years ago.

That relationship has turned out to be very beneficial for the Aggies as Tyler Jr., who was a running back for Oregon State from 2017-20, has pledged his commitment to the Logan-based university. Keeton will soon be the redshirt junior’s positional coach.

Tyler Jr., who has two years of eligibility remaining, announced his decision Saturday on Twitter.

“I don’t know if you know or not, but when I committed to Oregon State, I took an official visit,” Tyler Jr. said in an interview with The Herald Journal. “Coach Keeton was the person who picked me and my family up from the airport. This when he was a part of the OSU staff. However, when I was able to get into the portal, Utah State was one of the first schools to contact me and when I talked to (head) coach (Blake) Anderson and (offensive coordinator) coach Tucker, everything was very authentic and I loved their energy and determination to turn this program around.”

Tyler Jr. is the fifth football player from a Power 5 Conference to commit to the Aggies this month, joining offensive lineman Quazzel White (TCU), linebacker/defensive end Byron Hobbs-Vaughn (Texas), LB/DE Patrick Joyner (Miami) and cornerback Kyle Mayberry (Kansas). Tyler Jr. plans on enrolling at USU in early March — the spring semester is split into two seven-week sessions — and will be participating in spring ball.

In his four seasons at Oregon State — he redshirted in 2018 — Tyler Jr. played in 14 games and rushed for 124 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 30 carries. The 5-foot-8, 215-pounder played in three games this past season and finished with 45 yards on 15 rushing attempts, plus caught two passes for nine yards. Tyler Jr. found paydirt twice against Utah.

Tyler Jr. also has experience as a kickoff returner as he brought back nine for 182 yards (20.2 yards per return) as a true freshman for the Beavers in 2017.

The native of Beaumont, Texas, entered the transfer portal less than two weeks ago and it didn’t take long for him to find a landing spot. When asked about what schools reached out to him, Tyler Jr. said “I’m not going to name all the schools, but I can tell you that my final two came down to USU and Memphis.”

What ultimately tipped the scales in Utah State’s favor?

“I honestly believe that I chose USU because how genuine the coaches were and the vision they had for me,” said Tyler Jr., who is eligible to play immediately. “I believe in the Good Lord and I believe that he guided me here and knew this was the best decision for me. I’m looking forward to building and becoming a better leader, better player and, most importantly, a better teammate.”

USU’s ability to produce NFL running backs over the past 10 years also helped make the decision easier for Tyler Jr. Since 2012, the Aggies have had five running backs selected in the NFL Draft in Robert Turbin, Michael Smith, Kerwynn Williams, Devante Mays and Darwin Thompson.

“Most definitely that played a factor, but my biggest factor was to get somewhere I can focus on just football and being a leader,” Tyler Jr. said.

Tyler Jr. was a record-setting tailback in high school and a 3-star recruit who had scholarship offers from more than 10 FBS teams, including Power 5 programs California and Illinois, and Mountain West programs Fresno State and New Mexico.

As a senior at Silsbee (Texas) High, Tyler Jr. amassed a single-season school record 2,861 rushing yards — he averaged 11.6 yards per carry — and scored 29 touchdowns. He also contributed with eight receptions for 124 yards and another score. Tyler Jr. rushed for more than 100 yards in all 11 games, eclipsed the 400-yard barrier twice and the 300-yard barrier two more times en route to earning class 4A-DI all-state honors.

As a junior at Ozen (Texas) High, Tyler Jr. racked up 1,809 yards on the ground and found paydirt 24 times.

What are the biggest strengths Tyler Jr. feels he will bring to the Aggies?

“I believe my biggest strengths are my vision, being able to make people miss, and the ability to catch out the backfield and also line up at slot and, most importantly, hit the home run ball at any time,” said Tyler Jr., whose cousin, Christine Michael, is a former NFL running back.

Jason Turner is a sports reporter for The Herald Journal. He can be reached at jturner@hjnews.com or 435-792-7237.

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