Miami Hurricanes football coach Al Golden went into last weekend pondering whether Plantation American Heritage speedster Walter Tucker will make a bigger impact as a linebacker with great lateral movement or a bruising running back with breakaway speed.
Tucker might have swung the pendulum toward toting the football by winning the 110 meters hurdles and leading the Team Florida 400-meter relay team to a nation-leading 40.11 seconds at the Great Southwest Classic in New Mexico on Saturday.
Tucker, who signed with Miami on Monday morning, said getting the green light from Golden to continue his track career at Miami played a big role in picking the Hurricanes over Clemson, Tennessee and Georgia.
“Miami said they would let me play football and run track,’’ Tucuker said. “When coach Golden told me that I had the biggest smile on my face. That is when I knew I could make my decision.”
Tucker clocked 13.95 to beat fellow Florida team member Timothy Holmes for the 110 Hurdles title and then put on a stick exchange clinic with Gibbs’ High School’s Trayvon Bromell, American Heritage teammate Jerimy Strainge and Dr. Phillips’ Reggie Glover to help the Team Florida 4x100 clock 40.11. Tucker said he ran a sizzling 9.20 split on the third leg and Strainge brought Team Florida home on the anchor leg.
“The 40.11 means a lot, ‘’ Tucker said. “Great Southwest is a prestigious track meet. Plus you’re going against 50 other states. We were talking about setting the new top time when we were practicing. We were kind of nervous because we never ran with Reggie and Trayvon. We knew we had the speed but we knew we had to put it all together and run.”
Strainge, provided one of the most inspirational stories of this past track season when he returned from an injury which kept him out for a season and a half to win his second state title in the 200 meters and lead the Patriots 1,600 meter relay team (3:14.00) and 400-meter relay team (40.49) to the then No. 1 times in the nation.
Strainge set the tone for a stellar anchor leg by winning the 200 in personal-best 20.78.
“The Tennessee coaching staff has been overly attentive of Jerimy, even before Jerimy ran a 20.84 at Golden South,’’ said Heritage coach Corey Hicks. “They were even committed to him when he ran 21.15. Jerimy has persevered through adversity. He never wavered with his faith. I don’t think we could have asked for a better way for him to go out.”
Bromell, who is headed to Baylor, created perhaps the biggest buzz of the track season when he ran 9.99 to win the 100 meters and become the first prep sprinter to go below 10 seconds. Bromell ran with a +4.0 tailwind, however, which gives him the top national high school “all conditions” time and leaves Jeff Demps’ 10.01 in 2008 as the top non-wind aided time.