Spring Football: West Rowan’s Tucker Rowan’s first commitment

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 30, 2013

By Ronnie Gallagher

This is the first of the high school spring football reports …
MOUNT ULLA — When Najee Tucker was at Southeast Middle School, everyone thought he would be a heck of a basketball player once he got to high school. And he has been a starter for Mike Gurley in that sport.
But Tucker announced last week he’ll be a football player in college.
Tucker has committed to Charlotte, which will begin its first season of football this fall under Brad Lambert.
West Rowan coach Scott Young, who led the Falcons to yet another 10-win season in 2012, likes his guys committing before football season starts.
“I thought it was a little early,” Young said. “But Najee said, ‘Coach, I was happy on my visit down there.’ At the end of the day, that’s all that matters. If he’s happy, I’m happy.”
Many Division I college recruiters were interested in the free safety, mainly because of his 6-foot-3 frame, speed and length. They said the same thing about former Falcon star Domonique Noble, who is currently at Georgia Tech.
But why so early?

“After talking to my family, it was something I really wanted to do,” Tucker said.
He said he felt comfortable with the defensive backs coach and that was one of the main reasons he’s headed 38 miles down I-85.
Tucker will enter 2013 as one of the county’s most hyped players because of it. He is a big-play man. He ran a fumble back 65 yards in the season opening-win against Mooresville and took an interception 30 yards for a score against West Iredell.
Tucker was also offered by Ball State and more would have come in.
“A few ACC schools might have been interested but it felt like home at Charlotte,” Tucker said. “The distance didn’t matter — but it is a plus that it’s right down the road.”

Going into the spring, Young felt good about the number of recruits he could have from Division III on up. One is Chris Hassard, a big, offensive lineman.
“Hassard is sure-fire,” Young said, mentioning VMI, The Citadel and Wofford as interested parties. “He’s a legit 6-foot-2, 255, 260.”
Where would he play? Inside?

“It depends on how big he goes,” Young said. “D3 or D2, he can play anywhere. DI, he’d play interior.”
Muscular Zeke Blackwood will be a linebacker or defensive back and colleges were high on him last season. N.C. A&T is very interested in running back Dasean Reddick.
“We should have a lot of recruits, about 10,” Young said, mentioning Teoz Mauney, Raekwon Torrence, Chris Patterson, Derrick Fortson and Darius Gabriel, among others.

West will be leaving the North Piedmont Conference, where it won seven of eight titles. It’s waving goodbye to the three Iredell schools behind and headed for a Rowan-Cabarrus league.
“I loved our old conference,” Young said. “There were no long road trips, no late Thursdays and no late Fridays. But I’m excited about the new conference. I think it’s tougher. What A.L. Brown did last year, Concord’s tradition, Hickory Ridge is up-and-coming, Cox Mill has been very competitive … you throw Central Cabarrus and Coach (Donnie) Keifer in there. He’s won everywhere he’s been. We’ve got our work cut out for us.”

With eight conference games, Young had to determine what three non-league opponents to schedule.
No brainer there: 4A Mooresville, 4A Davie and 2A power Salisbury.
Short distances, great competition and great crowds.
“That’s our three biggest gates,” Young said. “We could not lose them.”

Young is still working out quarterbacks and may have found one in Jywan Summers. He thinks if that position pans out, the Falcons can be a power again. Returners like sturdy linebacker Nick Collins will have colleges looking at him. Young has a quality kicker in Zach Russell. And there can’t be many return specialists as good as Tyler Kennedy.
So, obviously, Young likes what he has seen in the spring.
“We’ve been limited by kids doing other things,” Young said. “But I’ve had a blast. It’s been awesome. It’s just fun seeing kids get better.”