WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. - Quarterback Jimmy Clausen might be the poster boy for high school football in California next season, but he's not the only player at Westlake (Calif.) Oaks Christian that has five-star potential.
Outside linebacker/running back Marc Tyler is also a special player, but with his upbringing and family friends that include Ronnie Lott, Marcus Allen and Joe Montana it's no surprise that he's about to become a household name.
Tyler is the son of former UCLA Bruin, Los Angeles Ram and San Francisco 49er great Wendell Tyler. Football is in his blood, so it's no surprise that he's turned out to be one of the nation's elite junior prospects. Through six games, Tyler had rushed for 966 yards and 12 touchdowns, had 17 receptions for two scores and played some spot duty on defense racking up 16 tackles and a sack.
But things weren't always easy for Tyler. He said a move from Lancaster to Oaks Christian his freshman season was the best move that he's ever made.
"Actually this is a perfect situation for me," Tyler said. "Coming from Lancaster, I didn't have all this. I was out there struggling with my grades and fighting and stuff. So my dad brought me out here to this school because Chris Potter (a sophomore receiver) and his family knew about this school.
"I ended up getting hooked up with Jimmy, and things have turned around completely."
When Tyler said he hooked up with Clausen he isn't exaggerating. Tyler moved in with the Clausen family and that help further his transition to a new school with new friends and new challenges.
"It was kind of tough my freshman year," Tyler said. "The Clausens have been helping me a lot since I've been living with them. By me living with them and Jimmy helping me, it's made it kind of easy. I'm now used to all the pressure and challenges both on the field and academically that you face by coming to a school like Oaks Christian."
Having not just one, but two blue-chip recruits in the same house can make things hectic, but Tyler said being around the Clausens has been one of the greatest things he's ever experienced, especially when it comes to dealing with Jimmy, the last in the long of great quarterbacks produced by the family.
"Actually what you see is what you get with Jimmy," Tyler said. "He's kind of goofy. He likes to sleep all the time, and when he's not doing that he's eating or working out. He works real hard and he pushes us all real hard to work with him.
"By being around him, it just makes you a better person and a better player. I wouldn't trade the experience I've gotten by being with him for anything."
Tyler already has scholarship offers from Tennessee, Arizona, Oregon State, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Alabama and Nebraska. He has taken unofficial visits to both Tennessee and Notre Dame so far, and he's liked what he's seen at both places.
"I've thought about going national a little bit," Tyler said. "I've been to Tennessee, and I like Tennessee. I went to the Notre Dame-USC game, and that's about the only two schools I've seen back East so far. I like the atmosphere out there at those schools better than the Pac 10. It's more of a real college town feel, but I've not thought about it too much really.
"I don't have offers from USC or UCLA yet, but I've been talking to them, and I really like their programs, too."
Tyler also said he's not too worried about the recruiting process at this point, because he knows he'll be able to handle the pressure that will be placed on him.
"It's not been really tough for me since my dad has been all through this," Tyler said. "He's been through all this since I was little. With me talking to his friends like Ronnie Lott, Marcus Allen and Joe Montana, they taught me how to keep a level head and stay focused on my grades. I really knew about it all before it was going to happen, so it hasn't been anything that hasn't thrown me for a loop too much.
"The biggest advice that they all gave me was to just work harder than everybody else, because when you get to the next level everybody else will be just as talented as you are. So you have to keep working hard, stay level headed and focused on what's most important."