Goshen’s Tucker chooses Tennessee Tech

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 7, 2001

Sports Writer

With Charles Henderson’s Von Ewing announcing last week he would sign with the University of Alabama, that leaves just Goshen’s Jamar Tucker, another of Pike County’s All-State performers, to make a decision toward his collegiate future.

It appears he’s done so.

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verbally committed this past weekend to accept an athletic scholarship to play college football at Tennessee Tech University.

Tucker selected Tennessee Tech over schools such as Valdosta State, Troy State, West Alabama and UAB in a recruiting process that took several months to complete dating back to the start of the 2000 football season. Tennessee Tech, whose a member of the Ohio Valley Conference, is based out of Cookville, Tenn. near Nashville. TTU finished third in the OVC with an 8-3 record last season but failed to make the Division NCAA I-AA Playoffs.

This past season, Tucker was selected to the 2A

First Team All State defense

by the Alabama Sports Writers Association. Tucker, who also made The Dothan Eagle Super 12

and The Messenger

All County Team

as a free safety, was the third leading tackler on the team with 66 tackles. Last year, Tucker was also the leading receiver in county with 32 catches for 841 yards and 13 touchdowns. Tucker’s contributions also had a significant impact in the win column as the Eagles finished 10-2 while reaching the second round of the 2A state playoffs. In Tucker’s final season, Goshen earned its first playoff victory in seven years as the Eagles finished second in 2A Region 2 to region champion Straughn.

While he’s a slightly above average student who has already qualified for the Division I-AA school, Tucker still has to pass the ACT test and improve his grade point average during the remainder of the school year in order to get his academics in order.

"The guy who recruited him

did a great job of acquiring Jamar’s services," Thornton said. "Jamar had some (academic) qualifying concerns with the ACT and Division I-A schools backed off. He’s definitely a Division I-A player, but Tennessee Tech was ready to have him. "

Tucker, who will retake the the ACT test on Feb. 10, said he really liked the small school atmosphere Tennessee Tech had to offer.

"The players are really good and they have a very clean campus. They watched lots of film and wanted me because they lost a couple of guys in the secondary. They want me to play free safety."

Since the scheme TTU runs will be simular to Goshen’s in some ways, Thornton said the adjustment period won’t be difficult as it will be for some freshmen.

"He’s going to do a lot of the same things he did here, such as help on run support and defending the pass," Thornton said. "He was a big part of our defense."

Tucker, who is currently at 6-foot-4 and 209 pounds playing for the GHS basketball team, said he’s confident that playing time will come to him immediately for him.

"They want me to come in right away," Tucker said. "They’re the type of coaching staff that will start the best players."

With National Signing Day for collegiate football prospects coming up next Wednesday, Tucker said the recruiting process was an emotional swing from day to day.

"The process was very intense," Tucker said. "It turned out to be lots of fun. At first, I was nervous, but I got used to the process. I got tons of letters and lots of phone calls. Troy State liked my ability to play any position."

One of the keys to Tucker’s improvement last year on the football field was his increased emphasis on working in the weight room. After gaining nine pounds of muscle last summer, Tucker said pumping more iron really enhanced his performance.

"The weight room made me more physical, much stronger and faster," Tucker said. "It has a lot to do with you playing football."

With the

physical demands of college football players increasing each year, Tucker said he knows there’s a noticeable difference in Division I-AA football compared to the high school game.

"I’m starting to know the difference," Tucker said. "There’s a lot better, bigger and stronger players on the college level. I’ll have to work hard after the basketball season to get into better shape."

However, Tucker said basketball also helps him with his conditioning during the winter months.

"Basketball has helped me a lot because you have to be in shape to play in any sport," Tucker said. "It will help me stay in shape and in good condition."

Thornton said one of the things that will be missed about Tucker when Goshen kickoff the 2001 football season is not his athletic ability, but also the character and work ethic he displays.

"I’m proud of him for what he’s done," Thornton said. "He had great stats and played tight end for us which was very unselfish on his part. I appreciate how hard he’s worked and what’s he meant to this program as a player and a person. He has character and talent too."

Tucker, who will major in Business Administration, said getting away from home will be the best thing for him to do.

"It’s going to be OK," Tucker said. "I think I need to get away from home for a while. I like to be able to make it on my own."