NEW ORLEANS, La. – “If he stays healthy, he’ll be one of the best players in the history of Tulane University,” says Ponchatoula Head Football Coach Hank Tierney.

That was Ponchatoula Head Football Coach Hank Tierney, talking about Tulane running back Tyjae Spears back in June.

Back when Tyjae was at Ponchatoula, his relationship with Tierney was best defined by tough love, something that helped Tyjae grow for the better.

“I thought he hated me at one point,” says Tyjae Spears.

Spears added, “Since the tenth grade, I was a bad kid but he told me that day you’ve got a chance to play college football and he’s changed my life ever since then.”

Injuries limited Tyjae to just 5 games his junior season.

As a senior, he put on a clinic finishing the season with 1,800 all-purpose yards and 18 touchdowns.

A 3-star prospect that was under-recruited.

“Before these kids play their señor year, these colleges have already made their offers for that class. I mean, you talk to the Tulane and LSU people, they’ve already filled up for next year’s class. They’re working on 2 years from now. So, He kind of got lost in the shuffle because he was injured as a Sophomore and only played 5 games as a junior. Now I brought him to a couple of camps because I wanted them to see just what you said. He went to Tulane’s camp, ran great, you now he can run, he was the district 100-meter champion, so they knew he could run and he put a great senior year together in football. He led the district in receiving and was second in rushing, so all of a sudden they’re like whoa this kid is a player. If he would have been a junior coming back as a senior, he would’ve picked his school,” says Tierney.

“I know and other people know that I was under-recruited but I’m here now and I’m going to make the best out of my opportunity here,” says Spears.

Tyjae redshirted as a freshman last season at Tulane, playing in just 4 games and totaling 320 all-purpose yards and two scores.

A small part of a talented backfield that led the Green Wave to its second consecutive bowl victory.

Spears says playing in just a few games, “It was very hard, but you know, I’m very supportive. It ain’t all about me, it’s about other people too so however I could support, I’m going to do so.”

He has patiently waited his turn, and now he is making the most of his opportunity.

Tyjae had his first career start against South Alabama and has assumed starting running back duties for the Tulane Green Wave.

The beginning of what could be a memorable year at Tulane.

“It’s time to go harder, every game you’ve got to go harder, every play you’ve got to go harder. I ain’t complacent, I ain’t satisfied with where I’m at right now. I’ve got to keep on getting better.”