'DA BOMB' is Poly's not-so-secret weapon Explosive Kyler ignites Engineers


Often, after leaving a huddle during a game, Poly tackle Joe Brown says the next he'll see of teammate Greg Kyler is what many opposing defenses do:

The No. 34 and the back of Kyler's jersey, which has his nickname "DA BOMB" where his last name should be.

"I'll make my block, look up and see people trying to catch up to him as he's sprinting down the sideline," said Brown, a second-team All-Metro lineman.

"You've gotta block quickly because it only takes him about a split second to get to the hole, then he's gone. He's a great athlete."

Several college football programs have made the same observation, including Penn State, Wake Forest, Notre Dame, Michigan, Purdue and Maryland.

"It gets kind of hectic with the colleges because I average about five pieces of mail a day," said Kyler, 17, who has rushed for 609 yards and 10 touchdowns on just 54 carries -- an average of 11.3 yards per run.

Kyler scored 700 on his Scholastic Assessment Test -- which he plans to take again in November -- and his present 2.56 grade average meets NCAA freshman eligibility requirements (a 2.0 average).

"Some see him as a defensive back, others as a kick returner. Some like him as a wide receiver, and, of course, he can play running back," said coach Augie Waibel.

"In our system, we can put him out as a wide receiver. And he's the wing back in our I-formation. He has good hands, quickness and speed, and he can play on either side of the ball."

Friday's 37-6 victory over Lake Clifton (5-1) was a testament to Kyler's versatility. He had 283 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns -- including 154 yards on the ground and four receptions for 84 more.

Kyler has 189 receiving yards overall, and thanks to a fluid, often acrobatic running style, he rarely takes a solid hit.

"I'd like to have someone like him -- he's a tough back to bring down," said Lake Clifton coach David White. "Sometimes we had him almost down and he'd put a hand on the ground and keep on going."

A second-team All-Metro hurdler in track last spring, Kyler (6-foot, 180 pounds) also was among the area's best triple

jumpers with a personal-best leap of 45 feet, 6 inches.

He reported to practice bigger, stronger and faster than he was in last year's 700-yard, seven-touchdown, four-interception season.

His 4.3-second 40-yard -- is a full second faster than a year ago, and he's more muscular because of a weight-training regimen in which he "lifts for conditioning."

"I think my strengths are speed and ball handling," said Kyler.

Confidence was a must for Kyler without former backfield mate and 4.3 speedster Sekou Selli, who is academically ineligible after rushing for over 500 yards as a junior.

"At first, I thought that would be a problem, but then I got it set in my mind to just work harder," Kyler said. "I've gotten comfortable with the challenge of being a leader and helping to make the team function. I feel like I help to raise the team's play to another level."

While fellow backs Louie Randall, Randy Beaman and Ian Clayton handle the short-yardage and blocking chores, Kyler has been the master of the momentum-changing play.

"We mostly use him on misdirection plays," said Waibel. "People know the damage he's capable of, so trying to hide him would be difficult."

Poly's defense has performed flawlessly this year, with the Engineers (6-0) having outscored their opponents, 346-24, with two shutouts. Because of that dominance, Kyler, who also plays safety, is used less frequently in the secondary and can focus on offense.

Kyler did play defense in the Engineers' toughest contest, a 12-6 victory over No. 11 Dunbar. In that game, he batted down a crucial pass and combined on a tackle with Malik James to stop a two-point conversion run.

"It's relieving that we haven't met that many capable teams, and I can concentrate on offense and not get tired," said Kyler, whose best rushing effort (205 yards, three touchdowns) came in Poly's fifth game, a 54-6 rout of Douglass.

"I feel it's my job to generate the team's intensity. And when I'm in there, it seems like we get more hyped -- I like that."

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