ATLANTA – B.E.S.T. Academy’s first year of varsity football was Robert Tucker’s freshman year at the all-male public school in northwest Atlanta.
His four-year career began as a defensive end/tight end. By the time he was a senior, Tucker had evolved into a linebacker/tight end. When he reports to South Carolina next week, the slash will disappear and Tucker will join coach Pat Washington and the rest of the Gamecocks’ tight ends.
B.E.S.T. head coach Joshua Moore thinks Tucker will “fit in perfectly” with the system offensive coordinator Kurt Roper has introduced at South Carolina.
“With tight ends now with the spread offense, it’s almost the most important guy, outside of the quarterback. If you don’t have a tight end, it’s hard to get that spread to work the way you really want it to work,” Moore said. “(Tucker) can be a big threat in the run game, as well as the passing game. Then he’s a guy that can be flexed out and be attached at the line of scrimmage.
“When you get a guy that can do those things, you’ve got a real valuable guy you can add to the offense.”
As a senior, Tucker caught 16 passes for 336 yards with four touchdowns over eight games. For his three-year varsity career, he had 45 receptions for 947 yards and 10 scores.
“I know (Roper) uses the tight ends a lot,” Tucker said. “He throws the ball to them, gets the ball to them. I like the offense. When I went to the spring game, the tight end was a main target.”
The three-star prospect was last measured at 6-foot-3, 240 pounds.
“(As a freshman) he came in young and he was just raw. He was good, but he was raw,” Moore said. “We just fine-tuned a lot of the things he already did well and kind of enhanced the things that he needed to work on, to play at a higher level.
“Just the growth and maturity off the field, the classroom and in the locker room — not so much the play on the field, but all the things that go along outside of football — a lot of growth and maturity.”
Last summer, before the beginning of his senior season, Tucker bench pressed 265 pounds and squatted 405.
This spring, when he wasn’t throwing the shot put, Tucker got his workouts in at a CrossFit gym. Seven days from now, he moves to Columbia, S.C.
“I like the coaching staff. Coach (Bryan) McClendon, he’s been recruiting me since he was at Georgia,” Tucker said. “When he called me and told me that I had an offer from them, I was excited. When I went down to the campus — the players — I really vibe with them. I felt comfortable down there. And the situation with the tight ends, I feel like I can play early.”
His mother, Keisha Rockmore, is pleased with her son’s decision to sign with South Carolina.
“When I went down there, the people were real nice,” she said. “They treated us really nice. I liked it when I went down there. I enjoyed the stadium. It was real nice.”
Tucker hasn’t decided on a major, but he’s leaning towards something business-related or in sports.
“I want to come in and hop on my books right away, stay focused in school and on the field,” he said. “I want to come in and I want to learn more about Columbia. I want to feel out my surroundings and get adapted to my atmosphere.”
Tucker added, “I’ve got to go focused, because I’ve got a chance to play early. It’s a new coaching staff and the tight ends, it’s a good situation. I’ve just got to go focused and ready to play, ready to perform.”
His former head coach doesn’t seem to believe that will be an issue.
“He’s going to bring in some grit and attitude, some intensity. He’s going to bring a work ethic and a never-say-die, a never-say-quit attitude,” Moore said.