Ty Chandler is arguably one of the best backs — if not the best — in Tennessee.
But that level of praise still might fall short of how good those who know him believe he is.
“He’s the best running back I’ve coached against or had,” MBA coach Marty Euverard said. “He’s the best running back I’ve ever seen.”
That’s high praise from a coach who had to prepare for the likes of former Ensworth and current Miami (Fla.) standout Corn Elder and former Riverdale standout Ralph King.
Chandler is The Tennessean’s 2015 football player of the year.
The Division II-AA Mr. Football Back of the year rushed 347 times for 2,585 yards and 34 touchdowns in 2015 to help lead MBA to the DII-AA state title game. The Big Red came up just short against rival Brentwood Academy in a 56-55, double-overtime loss that took a two-point conversion to determine a winner.
And the junior workhorse can do more than rush for big numbers. He returned two kicks for touchdowns this season, including a 99-yard state championship-record kickoff return, and also caught five passes for 121 yards and two more scores.
If he wasn’t the star running back for the Big Red, he might see more time as return man and receiver due to his ability to play all over the field.
“He can catch anything,” Euverard said. “I saw him make a catch in practice one time and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a better catch.”
Chandler said he owes his all-around skills to his attention to detail.
“It’s just about being versatile and working on the little things,” Chandler said. “That’s a big part of it.”
Chandler heated up when it counted most for MBA (11-2). During the team’s first DII-AA East/Middle Region contest against McCallie in Week 5 he broke free for 279 yards and four touchdowns (the first of three games in a row with four TDs).
His lowest rushing total in DII-AA play was 188 yards. He eclipsed the 200-yard mark six times over the final nine games, including a 305-yard performance in the semifinals against Christian Brothers. He averaged 31 carries a game during that nine-game stretch.
“Getting 30-plus and 40-plus carries is all about conditioning,” Chandler said. “If it weren’t for conditioning I wouldn’t be able to that.”
He wasn’t just a workhorse for MBA. Chandler could also break the long run.
“You know he’s got a chance,” Euverard said. “If he breaks the first line, you like your odds.”
And despite opponents’ game plans to slow Chandler down, they are typically left wondering what happened when the game ends.
In the state title game loss to the Eagles, Chandler racked up 398 all-purpose yards, three rushing scores and a 40-yard touchdown reception on 44 total touches to leave an impression on Brentwood Academy coach Cody White.
“Ty Chandler is phenomenal,” White said.
He added that Chandler wasn’t just hard to stop, but doing so was something the Eagles still weren’t sure how to do.
“We haven’t stopped him yet,” White said. “I’ll tell you when we do.”
For Chandler, his successful junior campaign gives him high hopes he can continue when the Big Red hit the field for his senior year in 2016.
“I think it gives the whole team confidence,” Chandler said. “Even though we came up a little short, I think it gives us a big advantage going into next year.”
Reach Sam Brown at 615-259-8232 and on Twitter @SamBrownTN.
FOOTBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Why chosen: Chandler led MBA to the Division II-AA state championship game where the Big Red fell to Brentwood Academy 56-55 on a two-point conversion in double overtime. The DII-AA Mr. Football Back of the year rushed 347 times for 2,585 yards and 34 touchdowns. He also had five receptions for 121 yards and two more scores, adding another two touchdowns of nine kick returns, including a state championship game record 99-yard return in the loss to the Eagles.
College plans: Considering offers from Notre Dame, Georgia, Ole Miss, Tennessee, LSU and Ohio State among others.
Family: Parents Chico and Katrina Chandler, sister, Madisyn (8) and brother, Jonah (5).
Nickname: Ty (full name Tykevious).
Best high school sports moment: “Winning the 2014 state championship.”
Favorite sports team: Carolina Panthers
Dream job: “To be a physical therapist.”
Favorite teacher: Roddy Story (history).
Instagram or Snapchat: Snapchat
Fall or spring: “Fall, because that’s when I get a chance to get back on the field and do what I love, play football.”