After being cut by two NFL teams last season, Rock football alum Cory Tucker landed himself his first long-term professional contract.
The former All-American offensive lineman signed a two-year deal with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League (CFL).
“It (getting a contract) was basically all my agent’s work,” Tucker said. “We talked to a bunch of teams. He asked for my highlights, then asked for another. A week later, I had a contract.”
A year ago, being a professional athlete was not Tucker’s main goal. His purpose of coming to SRU was to get his degree in sports management, which he finished last fall as an intern for the university’s athletic department offices. But after being so close to making an NFL roster twice, Tucker said that playing at the highest level became his focus.
“I came here to get a degree,” Tucker said. “I always looked at it as ‘if it works, it works’. But after being there and playing with everyone, I thought, ‘if these guys can do it, it’s no way I shouldn’t be out there too’.”
Tucker said he wants to use his opportunity in the CFL as a stepping stone to make his way back to the big stage. His goals are not impossible.
Miami Dolphins Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2005 by the New York Giants. He was cut after training camp. Wake went on to play two seasons in the CFL following being cut, where he won the league’s Outstanding Defensive Player Award two years in a row. He returned to the NFL following his second season in Canada and has been one of the top defensive ends in the league.
If Tucker is able to make that jump from the CFL back into the NFL, he would join the likes of greats such as Wake and quarterbacks Jeff Garcia and Warren Moon as players who got their start in Canada before their debut in the states.
While Tucker has to still prove himself professionally, he is well known at The Rock. The two-time All-American and 2015 Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the Year finalist has made a name for himself on and off the field.
Rock head coach Shawn Lutz said that not only was he dominant on the field, but in the classroom. Tucker was an academic All-American as well. Lutz said his former player’s work on and off the field is what makes Tucker so special and will carry him to success in his career.
“We always talk about when you graduate here, you’re going to have a championship ring on one hand, and a diploma in the other other,” Lutz said. “Tucker is a guy who lives by that.”
Tucker’s academic success won’t help him in transitioning culturally. Tucker will be spending the next two years playing in a different country that speaks an entire different language.
“I don’t know if he knows French or not,” Lutz said. “But he’s there for a purpose. It’s an outstanding thing for him. Anytime you can go international or you can go somewhere, that’s a whole new experience for him.”
While the culture has changed, football will remain the same. It might even be better for Tucker, as Lutz said that Canada plays on a bigger field with high-tempo offenses similar to that of Tucker’s experience at SRU.
Tucker just finished his first mini camp with Montreal last week and said that he thinks it was pretty successful. He has no intention of wasting time and plans to earn a starting job.
“That’s always the main goal,” Tucker said. “The practice squad is not something I’m looking for.”
If Tucker wants another shot at the NFL, he will need all the time on the field he can get.
If he earns a starting job, the international pro-baller will have the opportunity to start making his case on June 22 when the Alouettes open its season at home against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.