Item: Although he didn’t play in last week’s live ACC Network broadcast of the Orange-Blue game, everyone, including head coach Dino Babers and his teammates, are raving about the upcoming third (and likely final) season of running back extraordinaire Sean Tucker.
Okay, let the Heisman hype begin right here.
Syracuse’s Sean Tucker for the 2022 Heisman Trophy.
After a record-smashing season in which he ran for 1,496 yards to surpass the 42-year mark of Joe Morris, finishing fourth best among FBS players, what does Tucker do for an encore?
That question has been on the mind of Orange Nation heading into the 2022 season, and it came to focus at the Orange-Blue event. Always understated verbally, Tucker, wearing a distinctive piece of bling around his neck while dressed in civies on the sidelines last Friday night, was succinct when interviewed on the ACC Network.
“I definitely have a couple of goals,” he explained. “Try to break my rushing record of last year, and definitely get (in the) Heisman race.”
The biggest news regarding Tucker this off-season is not how good he’s looked in spring practice, but the fact that he took it upon himself to improve his speed and agility by joining the school’s indoor track team.
Among his accomplishments for head coach Brien Bell were finishing second (to teammate Trei Thorogood) in the men’s 60M event during the Kane Invitational at Cornell in January, and recording a personal best time of 6.90 in the 60M at the Tiger Paw Invite held at Clemson in February.
“The track (participation) really helped him,” head coach Dino Babers told the media following the Orange-Blue festivities. “I mean he’s a lot faster than he was last year, unfortunately for everybody else, but he is a lot faster than he was last year.”
“It’s his first step and once he gets going,” Babers continued. “We did some other things with the team (this spring), some mat drills and stuff like that and they had to (run) a hundred yards. Instead of a running back running a hundred yards (he) looked like a track guy. He got out there about 60, 70 yards, all of the sudden he just relaxed, and the speed just kept continuing. The track really helped him.”
How can Babers’ analysis not make any Syracuse fan excited for the September 3 opener hosting Louisville?
Even better, Tucker himself knows where he wants to improve on the field catching passes (20 receptions for two touchdowns last year) and in strategic game situations.
“With the new coaching staff and scheme, we can definitely work on all areas of my game,” Tucker said last week referring to first year offensive coordinator Robert Anae. “My number one thing is blocking. I definitely feel that I need to enhance that, work on that skill. Practice on my catching every day, trying to get better, catch more reps.”
Babers has also witnessed that drive and determination that if indeed this is Tucker’s final season in the program, he’s going to go out with a bang.
“I think Sean is doing a lot of that stuff (growing as a player) on his own, but we’re going to do some things offensively that’s hopefully going to help him on what he’s trying to do,” Babers explained. “He does a nice job remaining extremely focused on what he wants, he knows exactly what he wants to do.”
For the upcoming season what Tucker wants to do is be in Heisman Trophy voter’s minds come December. So, let the hype begin.