Tyrone Sellers, a 2009 McCook High School graduate, joined the UNK football program last summer after several years at the University of Kansas. Sellers transferred to Kearney after Charlie Weis took over as head coach of the Jayhawks program.
Sellers spent his junior year of eligibility as a back-up defensive end for the Lopers. The former Bison star played in the rotation of UNK defensive linemen, and he hopes to battle for a starting spot next season in his final year of college football.
Sellers said it was a tough season.
"It took us awhile to get rolling, get things working," he said.
After losing seven straight games, UNK won three in a row before the season-ending loss to Fort Hays. Quarterback Anthon Sheppard completed 19 of 31 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns against the Kearney defense. Sheppard also ran 19 times for 115 yards.
"Their quarterback, we couldn't contain him, and that's really what we were working on all week," Sellers said. "We really couldn't simulate that too well in practice. He definitely torched us. Got to hand it to (Fort Hays), they played well."
SELLERS SAID he weighs about 230 pounds, probably a bit undersized when he faces 300-pound offensive tackles across the line of scrimmage line nearly every week. Tyrone hopes to bulk up to around 260 for his senior campaign.
He will have the benefit of spring ball at UNK before next season, something he didn't have this year. Sellers stayed at KU through last spring before deciding to transfer to Kearney.
He joined fellow Bison teammates Matt Berry and Dillon Goltl on the UNK roster. All three played as seniors on the McCook team that lost to Aurora, 37-33, in the 2008 Class B high school playoff semifinals. The Bison also reached the playoff finals in 2007, losing to Crete, and the semifinals in 2006 during Sellers' varsity prep career.
SELLERS SAW Goltl suffer another knee injury this fall. Goltl was starting at wide receiver before the season-ending injury. Dillon recently underwent surgery for the fourth time in his football career, and that had an affect on his teammate.
"It's tough, definitely, because that's one of your home boys," Sellers said. "I grew up with Dillon, doing everything with him and playing (sports) with him. He's out another season, they're not sure if he can come back or not. You never really know what you're last play of football will be. Just a lot of memories growing up with him and playing."
THE FORMER BISON standout felt he made a quick adjustment to UNK football's defense, without the benefit of spring ball before this season.
"I had a pretty good group of guys around me, teaching me the defense," Tyrone said. "Getting reps really helped. It wasn't too hard to learn.
He hopes to continue to improve and make a run at a starting position on the defensive line next fall.
"Just keep at it in practice and doing what we do," he said about his off-season plans. "I feel I've gotten a lot better through the season just seeing different things. I think I just need to continue that, and continue watching film and things like that."
Even though UNK finished with a losing record, Sellers found positives in the Lopers experience this fall.
"I thought it was a good season," he said. "We never turned inward on each other. We were always helping, having each other's back, trying to rally, trying to figure out ways to get better.
"I feel like we're definitely a better team at the end of this year than when we started, because of the adversity we had to go through and the things we put up with, and we still came out and won some games down the stretch. I think that's the main thing is, good teamwork is what we can take away from it."