Don’t color MU’s Tucker as redshirted
Keep an eye on Dalton Tucker.
It won’t be very difficult because nobody could miss him.
He stands an imposing 6-foot-6, appears rangy despite his 310 pounds and — ready for this? — the true freshman from Paris, Kentucky, just celebrated his 18th birthday in March.
Oh, one more thing.
Tucker was getting significant snaps at left tackle with Marshall University’s first-team offense during preseason football practices last week in Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
He’s that impressive.
Right, Greg Adkins? “Oh, very athletic, big young man,” said Marshall’s offensive line coach. “Really reminds me of Will Ulmer (MU’s usual left tackle), truthfully. Probably a little bit taller, and when Dalton came in he is bigger than Will came in at.
“He’s a guy that is really learning as we go, but has a good mentor in front of him to look after and watch and emulate. And he tries to do that.
“Nothing has been too big for him. Today (Tuesday), he went 90 percent of the reps with the ones (first team). It’s a good thing. He got about 50 percent yesterday (Monday) and it just doesn’t get too big for him. He’s very calm. He has a very non-assuming demeanor, which is good.”
Besides all that, Tucker is an apt pupil in the offensive line room.
“He’s a sponge,” said Adkins. “He tries to learn everything. He takes good notes. I’m very pleased with him so far through 10 or 11 football practices.”
Physically, Tucker is a prototypical left offensive tackle.
“Sure, he is,” said Adkins. “Strength has to come. Mental capacity has to come. The thing that I always talk about with any freshman — particularly in the offensive line that’s got to play — OK, can he do it? He can do it for 20 plays, but can he do it for 80? Can his mental toughness be able to handle it for 80 to 85 plays in a football game when you’ve got to have it somewhere in the fourth quarter?
“That’s where we’re trying to get him to. He’s nowhere close to that yet. Could he play for us? Yes, absolutely.”
Whoa. So, Tucker might be that unique true freshman offensive lineman who doesn’t get redshirted?
“It’s OK,” said Adkins. “It doesn’t bother me. The bottom line is he has made quicker strides than actually I anticipated.”
Nobody expected that.
“Nah, I didn’t expect it, admitted Adkins. “But he’s done good. Adkins. “But he’s done good.
″ To make room for Tucker, Ulmer shifted to right tackle in place of Tarik Adams, who was rested.
“Tarik is going to be fine,” said Adkins. “I look at him and occasionally I will get him out of a couple of periods. He has had some lingering issues. I pick and choose when I try to rest him . . . situational football. I try not to strain him too much. We’ve built his count up, so to speak. A week ago on Saturday, he went the whole day. I’ve kind of backed off him for the last couple of days. I’ll amp him back up.
“What all that allows me to do is mix and match. And that’s what I love doing. I had Alex Mollette (usually the right guard) play tackle today for eight or 10 plays. When we get everybody back it will give me the luxury of having a lot of guys who have gotten a lot of reps.”
That includes a teenage prodigy named Tucker.
Remember his name.
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at email@example.com.