Kirk Tucker: His Coach's Take

It's not often that Oklahoma State recruits a player that also has offers from Ohio State and Stanford. But Kirk Tucker, rated the 36th-best safety prospect in the nation, recently committed to the Cowboys after making an official visit to OSU. With National Signing Day around the corner, we visited with Tucker High School head coach Bryan Lamar about Tucker and his future with the Cowboys.

What are Kirk's strengths as a football player?
Lamar: He's a good athlete. He runs well and he's big stature, he's about 6-2 about 185 or 190 pounds. He's strong. He was a hybrid kid in our system, and he'll be a hybrid type player for them. He's a hybrid safety, hybrid linebacker but he's also versatile enough to be a traditional safety. He's also a very intelligent kid and a high character kid. He's a leader, on and off the field.

What do you think will be the biggest transition for him moving from the high school game to the Big 12 Conference?
Lamar: We've got kids all over the country and they seem to transition pretty well because the way we train them here at Tucker and the level of competition we play against. It's not the Big 12 but they're used to having to play fast and play physical and pay extreme attention to detail. Of course, it's another level and you've got to play against bigger, faster players but he'll be able to adapt.

Do you think he has a chance to make an instant impact or will there be an adjustment period for him?
Lamar: I definitely think he's going to be able to come in and play. The biggest thing for him is if he's going to play a hybrid ‘backer position, he's going to have to put on a little bit more weight. It'll depend on how much stronger he can get and if he'll be able to handle some things. Playing in space and playing against receivers, he'll be fine. It depends on how much he'll have to come into the box and understanding the physicality there. In high school you only play with so many college-level offensive linemen. Depending upon how he's going to be able to adapt to that part of it. But playing in space and covering and tackling and doing those things, he's going to be in good shape. There's still going to be a learning curve. But I wouldn't be surprised to see him help on special teams. He was our special teams captain and he was on every special team (for us). There will definitely be an adjustment period but how long it'll take him I don't know.

He was originally committed to Stanford but recently switched to Oklahoma State after not meeting Stanford's academic standards. How did he handle that?
Lamar: You talk about a special kid. He's not your average high school kid. He's very intelligent, he's very business-like in his approach to everything. He comes from a very good family. We weren't caught off guard when we got the call that he was not going to be able to be admitted (to Stanford). We knew there was a chance he may not be admitted. It's always tough on a kid when he's got his heart set on one thing, but we weren't totally blindsided. We kind of had a plan in place on how we wanted to attack the situation, and the ruling came down and we started going to work on finding a new place. He had some ideas on where he wanted to play, and I knew one of the coaches (graduate assistant Eric Henderson) on the Oklahoma State staff, and they had already looked at Kirk. It just so happened that they had a need and that he was a good fit, and one thing led to another, and so it ended up working out.

Why do you think he chose Oklahoma State?
Lamar: It never just starts with the visit. The relationship starts well before then. I felt like he felt comfortable with the staff and felt comfortable with where they want him to play, and how much they wanted him. I think when he visited he was trying to get a feel for how well he fit in and getting a feel for the environment, and he felt like it was a good fit.

What do you think he is capable of accomplishing over the course of his college career at OSU?
Lamar: The sky is the limit. You never know if injuries are going to play a part or things of that nature but if he stays healthy I think he's going to have a very, very successful career. I think Kirk understands the role they want him to play. It's one of those situations where the position they have him playing is the perfect position for him. As long as he can grow into that, all it does is enhance his abilities. If he continues to grow and gets better at all the things he's good at, he'll be able to flourish. HIs attributes fit perfectly into the position, with his work ethic, his intelligence, his intangibles, along with his athletic ability, he should be able to flourish.

What will you remember the most about coaching him?
Lamar: Kirk is just a great kid, a great person, and he's just ultra-competitive. We were playing our biggest game of the season this year (against Stephenson High School), and he was just all over the place. It was just an emotionally charged game, and we would do something good and then we'd do something bad, then we'd do something good and then do something bad. Kirk came to the sideline and said, ‘Coach, just relax. We've got it.' He kept saying that to me, ‘Coach, we've got you.' We were down with a few minutes left in the game and Kirk comes off the edge on third-and-long and smacks the quarterback, the ball comes flying out and we scoop and score to take the lead. He came running to the sideline yelling, ‘Coach, I told you I got you. I told you I got you.'

The other thing I'll remember is he was voted one of our permanent captains. We appoint different seniors as captains during the regular season but then before the playoffs begin we ask the team to vote on permanent captains, and Kirk was the number-one vote getter and he was 40 votes higher than the next two guys. The other two guys are Georgia commits, and they're great players and great people, but that tells you what his teammates thought of Kirk Tucker.

Let me share one more story about Kirk. We were getting ready to play in the quarterfinals of the playoffs and it's just miserable all week, practicing in the rain and it was cold. We were talking all week about how physical we've got to be. I was talking to the team one day and right in the middle of my practice speech he stood up and interrupted me and said, ‘Coach, I don't mean to be disrespectful. I'm going to be eating somebody's lunch on Friday night.' He was fired up and ready to go, and we went out there and beat them 29-0. He was ready to get out there and go after it.

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