Sean Tucker has hit the ground running at Syracuse after a stellar career at Calvert Hall.
College recruiters couldn’t help but notice Tucker after he paced the Cardinals with 1,204 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior and 1,556 yards on the ground and 14 scores as a junior for coach Donald Davis. Davis, who now holds the same position at Sidwell Friends in Washington, said that he has nothing but the highest regard for Tucker’s skill and perseverance.
”Sean is the picture of hard work and focus,” Davis said. “He and his family have kept his goals and the work necessary to reach them always in the forefront. I couldn’t be more proud of what he has meant to his program and the university during his college experience.”
The 5-foot-10, 210-pound sophomore, now in his third season because his first competition against the Atlantic Coast Conference came during the 2020 COVID campaign, has been the leading rusher for the Orange ever since.
And as Tucker climbs Syracuse’s all-time and single-season rushing ranks, the team has also steadily improved from a 1-10 mark in 2000, to 5-7 last year and 3-0 in the early going in 2022.
Optimism is running high on campus with Tucker playing a key role in the revival, beginning with a 31-7 demolition of Louisville in the ACC opener.
All Tucker managed in that remarkable outing was to rush 21 times for 100 yards and a touchdown while also scoring on a 55-yard catch-and-run.
So far this season, the Owings Mills resident has produced a team-best 254 yards on the ground with a pair of TDs and is the runner-up in receiving yards with 124 yards on 12 receptions and one score.
None of his success is a surprise to Syracuse fans, considering all that Tucker had accomplished in his first two years on the gridiron.
In 2020, he totaled 626 rushing yards, good for third on Syracuse’ all-time rookie rushing mark while leading all ACC freshmen running backs by averaging 70 yards per game on the ground.
A year later, Tucker began his all-out assault on program rushing records, winning All-American designation from the Football Writers Association of America, the Associated Press, Walter Camp, ESPN, The Athletic, Phil Steele and Pro Football Focus after compiling 1,496 yards (124.7 average per game).
He replaced former Syracuse great and Super Bowl champion Joe Morris atop the school’s all-time single-season rushing list and was the first Orange back to rush for 1,000 yards in eight games or less — a notable achievement indeed for a program that boasts the likes of Jim Brown, Floyd Little, Ernie Davis and Larry Csonka among its backfield legends.
Tucker also eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark a record nine times, with a program-best seven of those in succession.
He said that he never doubted his ability to be a power back in a Power Five Conference.
”I always had the confidence that I could do it,” Tucker said a couple of days after the Orange edged Big Ten member Purdue, 32-29, to remain unbeaten. He added that he got the chance to show his skill when the starting backs in his freshman year either were injured or opted out of the season.
”I had an opportunity to start,” Tucker said. “And I took advantage.”
A former Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association champion in the 55-, 100- and 200-meter sprints for the Cardinals, he continued to work on his speed in college by competing in the 60-meter dash for the Syracuse indoor track team last winter with a 6.90 being his best effort.
He earned finishes that ranged from 28th to second in four invitationals.
”That’s their sport,” he said, showing respect for track athletes.
Despite rushing for 187 yards and a touchdown in a 33-10 win in 100th Turkey Bowl against archival Loyola Blakefield in 2019, Tucker said that his favorite game at Calvert Hall was when the Cardinals edged three-time Class 4A state champion Wise to snap the Pumas’ 43-game winning streak in his junior campaign.
He scored twice in the victory, including a multi-tackle-breaking 30-yard jaunt.
”That was a big moment for me and my teammates,” he said.
He also noted that playing for coach Davis “was great fun — and so was winning all those Turkey Bowls.”