Lincoln’s Jalil Tucker transfers to SDSU to become the next Hometown Hero
San Diego State heavily recruited Jalil Tucker, one of the city’s best football players, for the class of 2022. They missed out initially. But as the old adage goes, “Dust yourselves off and try again.”
SDSU did just that, securing the transfer of the Lincoln High School star on Saturday.
Tucker was a two-way standout in high school, first at St. Augustine and ending at Lincoln. He played wide receiver and cornerback. But, his 4-star recruiting accolades were based primarily as a cornerback. 247Sports listed him as their 75th overall player in the Class of 2022 (8th in California), along with the 9th best cornerback and 4th best athlete in the country.
Despite the attention from the top local university, Tucker was focused on the dozens of offers he had in hand from Power 5 schools in the Pac-12 and others (Miami, Florida State, Michigan, and Nebraska).
“(Tucker) could have gone anywhere he wanted to go since he was an extremely talented kid on both sides of the ball,” Jason Carter, the offensive coordinator and assistant head coach at Lincoln High School, told EVT. “(As a coach), you try to help them evaluate the pros and cons of each offer, but you let the kids pick where they feel the most comfortable.”
Some of those schools were interested in Tucker playing WR, and Florida State preferred him at the position. After narrowing down his top 3 to Oregon, Washington, and Florida State, Tucker chose Oregon to play alongside his Lincoln cornerback teammate, Jahlil Florence.
After his redshirt season in 2022, where he only appeared in one contest, Tucker hoped to elevate his status on Oregon’s depth chart in spring camp. After primarily playing with the 3rd string in the first half of spring camp, Tucker entered the transfer portal on April 15th, the first day of the spring transfer portal window.
Thank you uo pic.twitter.com/WvX7ACJmrP
— Jalil Tucker (@TuckerJalil) April 16, 2023
As of this week, 247Sports listed Tucker as the top available cornerback in the portal. But whispers began about Tucker having an interest in playing wide receiver at his next school.
“I think the biggest thing for any kid that is aspiring to play college ball and a chance to play at the next level is to go where you are going to have the best opportunity to be yourself and the best opportunity to play,” said Carter. “Nowadays, if you can play, they’re going to find you, but the most important thing is getting on the field and having an opportunity to play and to be seen.”
He took an official visit to Arizona in early May and visited SDSU last week. In one of the photos Tucker posted on Instagram from that visit, he stood next to Jonathan Krause, SDSU’s wide receiver’s coach, prompting speculation that the whispers of a move to receiver were true.
On Saturday, Tucker eliminated all doubt. His commitment graphic listed wide receiver as his new position.
Tucker’s speed and athleticism helped him become a star on both sides of the ball for Lincoln. Before the start of his junior year, the 2020 Covid season that had moved to the spring of 2021, he was named the top wide receiver in San Diego by the San Diego Union-Tribune.
In his senior season at Lincoln, Tucker caught 21 passes for 296 yards and four touchdowns. In the 2021 CIF San Diego Section Division I Championship Game, he caught three passes for 65 yards and a touchdown against Helix.
“Obviously, he has speed,” responded Carter when asked about Tucker’s strengths as a receiver. “He has good hands and will go up and get it away from defenders.”
Tucker played primarily as an outside receiver at Lincoln, but Carter acknowledged he can play in the slot if needed as well. Starting this week, Carter will be working with Tucker on route-running to help him get back into that mode as he enters summer conditioning at SDSU.
“I work with a lot of wide receivers who are in college, guys who are home or will be home (from time to time),” explained Carter. “We’ll get back to (running routes with Tucker) and let the chips fall where they may. He will be ready to go when it’s time.”
The move from cornerback to wide receiver makes a lot of sense when considering his decision to transfer to SDSU.
Cornerback is arguably the Aztecs’ deepest and most experienced position. The top five corners from last year’s roster return, with four starting and playing extensive snaps over the last two seasons.
In contrast, wide receiver is arguably the Aztecs’ least talented and experienced position after the losses of Jesse Matthews and Tyrell Shavers. The infusion of Tucker’s game-breaking abilities, alongside Mekhi Shaw’s dependability and versatility, elevates the unit’s floor and ceiling in 2023 and beyond.
“(Tucker) is definitely going to help open up the offense,” said Carter when asked about the potential role at SDSU. “I think he will help change the dynamic. If they want to run the ball, he’ll be able to take the top off with his speed.”
Tucker has his full four years of playing eligibility remaining after burning his redshirt year at Oregon and will relish the opportunity to be back home.
“(Tucker) will have his family support, his coaches support, and his friends, something that is important for him,” described Carter. “He’s a good kid. He has a big heart. He loves his family, loves his friends, and I think that’s why coming back home will be great for him.”
“It’s all about the right opportunity, the right time, the right place, and I think SDSU will be the right place for him … he’ll be able to do some great things, and I’m excited for him.”
Aztec Nation is excited for him to become the next Hometown Hero.
Avid sports fan and historian of basketball, baseball, football and soccer. UC San Diego and San Diego State alumni living in America’s Finest City. Diverse team following across multiple sports leagues, but Aztecs come first in college athletics.