Freshman Spotlight: Pierre Gee-Tucker
Linebacker’s late commitment to NDSU has proved its worth
Published: Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 15:10
Pierre Gee-Tucker battled back-and-forth until the last minute on his decision to where he wanted to play Division I football. But in the end, NDSU just had something else that made the program stick out a little bit more than the other schools.
“Those two rings,” Gee-Tucker said. “When the coaches came to talk to me for the first time and I saw those rings on their fingers, it was astonishing to see. That played a big part because I wanted to be part of something like that.”
The rings Gee-Tucker is referring to is, of course, the back-to-back FCS national championship rings the Bison have won in the last two years. But even with gold on its hands, NDSU also had a lot of competition on its hands when it came to recruiting Gee-Tucker.
The highly-touted linebacker recruit out of Belleville West High School, Ill., had about 14 offers from different schools. That’s not to mention the handful of FBS schools reaching out to him, but only the recently-transitioned Georgia State made a committed move.
All the attention surrounding Gee-Tucker wasn’t as glamorous as it would seem. The decision process was a challenging one.
“It was very difficult. To be honest, I was stressed out for a long time,” Gee-Tucker said. ““It felt like every day someone was targeting you. So I had a hard decision to make but through the help of my parents and my coaches, it helped me out at the end.”
At the end is literally what Gee-Tucker did. He made his commitment late at night the day before signing day. While the championship rings stood out to him, there were many other aspects that made Gee-Tucker feel comfortable at NDSU. Between the commodities the school’s success brought or playing in the energetic atmosphere in the Fargodome, what stood out most to Gee-Tucker was his recruiting coach, defensive coordinator Chris Klieman.
“I felt good with the coaches,” Gee-Tucker said. “Coach Klieman made me feel at home. He made me feel like a person and like I was wanted, versus some other schools that made me feel like just another player.”
Feeling wanted at a Division I school was something Gee-Tucker dreamed about since he was five years old. He used to tell his friends and family that he was going to make it big with his football career someday. Gee-Tucker also wanted to make sure his family wouldn’t have to pay for his schooling.
The speedy linebacker’s family has been able to watch Gee-Tucker continue his playing days without a break in action. Gee-Tucker had his No. 47 redshirt pulled during the fall. His stout special team skills and added value of depth at the linebacking position made for an easier decision on the coach’s part.
“It’s always something I’ve wanted to do,” Gee-Tucker said on playing as a true freshman. “They said I had a good chance. But, I wasn’t sure until I actually had the chance to prove and show them. But to know that I had a chance to do that was real special.”
Gee-Tucker was thrown into the mix right away, even taking some snaps with the first team during fall camp. But the transition to college ball, as with any freshman, proved to be difficult. At 6-foot and over 200 pounds, Gee-Tucker had all the physical attributes. It’s the other half of playing college football that he had to get accustomed to.
“It was the hardest thing mentally,” Gee-Tucker said. “Just having to go through everything and remembering all the plays and schemes was difficult.”
Gee-Tucker grew up playing a 3-4 style of defense. The adjustment to NDSU’s base 4-3 came with some growing pains. In his first welcome-to-college-football-moment, Gee-Tucker can recall going up against the 6-foot-6-inch 314-pound Billy Turner for the first time.
“I can say that’s the first time I’ve been lifted off my feet like that,” he said.
But playing behind the likes of Carlton Littlejohn, Travis Beck and Grant Olson, Gee-Tucker said the support from them has helped just as much as the experience of playing games on Saturdays, or taking hits like that on the weekdays.
Gee-Tucker is just where he thought he would be many years ago. He is playing Division I football on scholarship and is already contributing on a defensive-minded national championship team as a freshman.
And even though his decision to come to Fargo didn’t come until the last minute, Gee-Tucker already knows the goals he should set out for.
“Maintain the defensive tradition,” he said. “The defense has always been a strong suit for us so we want to do our part to continue that.”
If he is able to help continue the tradition of NDSU’s No. 1-ranked defense, Gee-Tucker just might find himself with one of those rings he saw in his living room back in Illinois.