As Ethan Tucky crossed the finish line, he paused for a minute and started breathing heavily, put both hands on his knees, grabbed a cup of water, then laid flat on his back near the edge of the track.
He knows guys his size simply aren’t supposed to run that fast.
“I’m confusing myself,” Tucky said laughing, while trying to catch his breath. “I set up in the blocks sometimes and look around and have a little different body type than the rest of these guys.”
Tucky stands 6-foot-2 and, according to him, weighs 225 pounds. He’s a three-star prospect on the football field from Delaware, Ohio — roughly 30 minutes north of Columbus — where he’s being recruited as a defensive end/linebacker hybrid. But in track, he runs sprints.
And Tucky is fast, too. At Wednesday’s Division I regional track meet at Pickerington North High School, he finished second in his preliminary heat in the 100-meter dash (11.1 seconds). In the 200, Tucky won his heat in 22.29 seconds. He has a chance to advance to the state track meet if he finishes in the Top 4 in Friday’s regional finals.
“Last year I finished 13th in the state in the 100,” he said. “This year, I’m trying to go back for the 100 and the 200 — that’s my goal this year — so I’ll see what God has planned here, but no matter what I’m excited for the ride.”
The upcoming summer is a big one for Tucky, who will be a senior next year. He’s going to play football in college, but isn’t exactly sure where quite yet.
Right now, Tucky has offers from Wisconsin, Kentucky, Iowa, Indiana and Boston College, among others, and said he’s planning on making a visits to a few of those schools this summer.
Another school that’s on his mind is the one nearby: Ohio State. The Buckeyes haven’t offered Tucky a scholarship just yet, but he said he talks to Ohio State’s coaches pretty frequently. He said he will "for sure" visit Ohio State this summer and Buckeyes co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Luke Fickell went to visit Tucky last week.
“It’s been pretty good contact so far,” Tucky said of his frequent talks with OSU. “We just talk about life, pretty much. When he came out after the national championship game we talked about the game and stuff. The other day, we just talked about track and he wanted to see how that was going. When I was planning on coming up for camp, stuff like that.”
In the class of 2016, Ohio State already has two commitments at the defensive end position: Jonathon Cooper and Terrell Hall. The Buckeyes are the favorites to land a third at some point this summer in five-star prospect Nick Bosa.
Should they get three in the class, that likely means taking a fourth would be a longshot. If Tucky, who is kind of a tweener right now, can prove to Ohio State’s coaches he can play outside linebacker, he may wind up with an offer from the Buckeyes.
“That would be nice. It would be something else, growing up in Ohio,” Tucky said. “It would be a good feeling if that happens.”
With his size and speed, it’s clear Tucky is a unique kind of athlete. He said he doesn’t have a leader right now and also doesn’t have a timetable on when he plans to make a decision.
“I’m just trying to go with the flow of things. If I find the right school, I find the right school,” Tucky said. “Things are gonna happen and I’m just gonna keep enjoying the ride right now.”
Tucky is taking his time with the whole process. On the track, however, he’s getting things done quickly.