Tyrone Tracy knew he could play football very well at the college level.
Enjoying the game he loves, however, did not come easily at Iowa University.
So the 2017 Decatur Central graduate looked past his celebrated scholarship signing with the Hawkeyes.
He turned to the college transfer portal and opted for Purdue.
“It was a good opportunity for me, knowing they pass the ball a lot,” he said before the Boilermakers’ home game against Nebraska on Saturday.
“I’m a versatile player. I can play running back and receiver at a high level.
“They offered me a scholarship, saw the same thing in me that I saw myself.”
It has been a good decision, and a good ride, for the 6-1, 205-pound redshirt senior who wears No. 3.
With Saturday’s 43-37 win over visiting Nebraska, the Boilermakers pulled within one win of bowl eligibility and improved to 5-2 on the year and 3-1 in Big Ten play.
Tracy contributed two catches for 21 yards, bringing his season totals to 23 receptions and 170 yards.
Tracy’s biggest game of the season came a week earlier, when he caught three passes for 47 yards, including a season-best, 32-yard reception in the 31-29 win at Maryland. He did lose the ball to a fumble, but came back to recover the Terrapins’ desperation onside kick near the end of the contest.
“Obviously, I was a little disappointed with the fumble, but I kept my head, made a play when I needed to,” he said. “Before the fumble, I was having a good game. I had a pretty good catch and run for 40 yards, a couple other catches. One negative doesn’t define the game. You take it on the chin, move on to the next game.”
As a Boilermaker.
“When I was at Iowa, I was frustrated,” Tracy said. “But it taught me a lot. It helped me turn into a better man.”
And a happier man.
“They treat me well,” he said. “I feel I’m doing my job. They give me space, allow me to make plays.”
Tyrone is just one of four Tracys, all Decatur Central grads, playing college football.
• Kenny Tracy is a 5-10, 212-pound sophomore at Miami (Ohio) who wears No. 33. This season, he has 21 carries for 105 yards. In 2021, he rushed 55 times for 305 yards (5.5) and scored three touchdowns. He also caught 17 passes for 155 yards and a TD. He still holds the Decatur Central record with 75 career TD’s, including 33 as a senior. He averaged 100 yards per game.
• Javon Tracy is a 6-foot, 183-pound freshman wide receiver, also at Miami (Ohio) who wears No. 11. At Decatur Central, he rushed for 1,054 yards and 13 scores as a senior, finishing the year ranked in the top five for Mr. Football in Indiana.
• A cousin, Larry Tracy III, is a 5-11, 195-pound junior defensive back now at Illinois State after leaving Indiana University.
Before graduating from DC, Tyrone Tracy was the Gatorade Player of the Year in Indiana, earning Offensive Player of the Year honors as a sophomore and senior. He was named to Indiana Football Digest Top 25 and Indiana Football Coaches Association (IFCA) Top 50. He was also first-team All-Marion County, All-Mid-State, and All-State for three straight years. Tyrone helped the Hawks post a four-year record of 35-8. He holds DC records for receiving yards in a season (1,132) and career (2,643), becoming first player at Decatur Central with over 1,000 yards in a season.
All four Tracys played for current DC coach Kyle Enright.
“We were there 8 to 10 years,” Tyrone said. “They had quite a run. Now, they have a bunch of young guys. They’ll get there.”
For the Tracy brothers, sons of Laverna and Tyrone Tracy Sr., it’s all about family.
“Oh yeah, we’re all doing pretty well,” Tyrone said. “Our lives are not perfect, but we’re making the best of every opportunity. We try to walk away with something positive from every game.”
Especially when they are home games and the family comes to watch and cheer.
“We’re a close-knit family,” Tyrone continued. “We talk every day. Football is 75 percent mental. So we check on each other to see how we’re doing each week.”
They all see that Tyrone and his Boilermaker teammates are doing very well.
“I definitely made the right move,” he said. “I thought it was a good opportunity for me, so I jumped at the opportunity. So far, it looks like I made the right decision. Plus, it’s closer to home.”