New Notre Dame cornerbacks coach Mike Mickens picked up his third commitment of the 2021 cycle in three star corner Chance Tucker out of Encino, California.
Mickens outdueled head coach Jimmy Lake of Washington for Tucker’s commitment, no small feat pulling a player out of the west coast, especially in the COVID era of recruiting.
Word started leaking at the beginning of the week Tucker might be looking to commit soon, so it seemed wise to give his highlight tape the once (or twice) over to see what kind of player Notre Dame is getting.
Rating: .8627, three star, #687 overall
Offers: Washington, Washington State, Oregon State, Colorado
What stands out immediately in his profile is his size. This is another corner at six feet or taller for the Notre Dame secondary, making that five in the last two cycles, and poor Clarence Lewis is only 5’11 1/2, so he doesn’t get to join the “we are very big” group. Notre Dame has definitely placed an emphasis on size in the secondary, especially at the corner position.
Tucker really jumped onto the scene in the last few months, around the time he dropped a 10.97 100 meter time in March, which was run into a bit of a headwind. Given that race was run so early in the track season, a 10.8, perhaps even 10.7 may have been in Tuckers future. As it stands, for a comparison, that 10.97 is right at what Kevin Austin ran in high school. So, he’s got Kevin Austin speed, at least on the track.
As for his rating, if Ryan Barnes is pretty heavily underrated, and Philip Riley is probably properly rated, I’d put Tucker into the latter category. He could have been helped by a summer camp circuit or maybe some faster track times, but his ranking makes sense to me. He doesn’t have any elite traits, he isn’t a super flashy player, and he doesn’t come from a top flight program in Southern California, though they play stiff competition.
This is a profile type of recruit. Mickens is known for his ability to develop players, and Tucker is the perfect type for him to do just that. He knows he’s got the size, he can run, and he plays against athletes that will test him. Tucker isn’t the best guy who takes the field every week. Mickens would salivate over a player like this at Cincinnati, so it makes sense he thinks he can fit at Notre Dame as well.
Tucker played a lot of press and some off coverage at Encino High School and looks comfortable at both. He looked especially comfortable playing the deep ball and fade routes out of press, which is very nice to see. Notre Dame has struggled in the last few seasons on fades and playing the ball with the back turned to the quarterback, even with Julian Love and Troy Pride. Tucker already showing an aptitude for this part of the game is a big bonus.
Playing the ball when it’s thrown with the defenders back turned is one of the hardest aspects to master, and in his highlight film Tucker has examples where he executes both turning his head and finding the ball and playing the receiver without looking back. I’m telling you, this is an art, and it’s teachable to an extent, but for some it’s just a natural thing.
He also doesn’t panic off the line if he misses his jam, he just shifts his technique and wins playing from the hip pocket of the receiver. In this next clip you’ll see him miss, recover, get into the receivers pocket, and undercut this skinny post for an interception.
He also plays a bit of offense, always a good thing in my opinion, and he shows nice hands and ball skills at receiver. Unlike some other corners, Ramon Henderson for example, Tucker isn’t a Notre Dame level receiver, so his clips on offense are good illustrations in how he’ll go up and get the ball when it’s thrown to him.
He’ll also hit you, he shows nice aggressiveness in the running game, and there is one clip of him crushing someone on a kickoff that looks just nasty.
Where He Fits
Tucker to me is a sees the field as a sophomore, starts as a junior type player. It might take him a full year to get accustomed to competing against top 10 FBS level competition, but once the body gets filled out and he’s physically ready, there is something there for Mickens to work with. Generally speaking, I like that Notre Dame is after a certain type and that they are getting bigger. Size and speed have always been winning combinations in football, that’s what Notre Dame is after, and that’s what Tucker brings.