Tucker named finalist for Upshaw Award
Nov. 20, 2015
MANHEIM, Pa. - For the second straight year Slippery Rock University offensive lineman Cory Tucker has been named one of eight national finalists for the Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the Year Award, as announced Thursday in a release from the Manheim Touchdown Club.
The Gene Upshaw Award has been presented annually by the Manheim Touchdown Club since 2004 and recognizes the best offensive or defensive lineman in Division II football. The sports information directors of all NCAA Division II football playing institutions vote on the award.
Tucker, a redshirt senior from South Park is one of only two offensive linemen in the eight finalists this year and is the only offensive tackle in the country to make the list.
This marks the third time since 2010 that a Slippery Rock player has appeared among the national finalists. Brandon Fusco, now starting for the Minnesota Vikings, won the award in 2010 while Tucker was also a finalist in 2014.
"Cory Tucker has become one of the best offensive linemen in the nation," said Rock head coach George Mihalik. "Our offense is only as good as the line and Cory has been the guy leading us up front for four years now. Not only does he do an outstanding job in run and pass block schemes, he's also a driving force in our line being able to move faster than any other team in the country. We run so many plays per game because he leads the line to the ball every down. Cory is an outstanding student and an outstanding captain on our football team. He is very deserving of this great honor and was very humble last year in finding out that he was a finalist. I am confident in saying he deserves a place among the finalists again this year. We wouldn't be where we are offensively without Cory."
Also on Thursday, Tucker was named to first team All-Conference honors in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Western Division for the third consecutive year. He has started an incredible 45 straight games over the last four years and is in the midst of his best season yet, helping The Rock's offense to the top of multiple categories in the national statistical rankings.
Slippery Rock owns the nations best scoring offense at 48.7 points per game, has the fourth best total offense in the country at 517.1 yards per game and the eighth best rushing offense in the country at 283.5 yards per game. The Rock have picked up 288 first downs this year, the fifth best total in the nation, and have run more plays than anyone, twice reaching 100 plays in a game and currently averaging 87.4 plays per game.
Slippery Rock, ranked No. 10 in the latest national poll and a No. 2 seed in the NCAA playoffs, has shattered the program single-season scoring record and has 536 points through 11 games. The Rock have also shattered the rushing TD record with 41, the fifth most in the nation. Slippery Rock has also broken the program rushing record with 3,118 rushing yards on the year and has tied the all-time touchdown record with 73.
Slippery Rock won the PSAC West for the third straight year and the PSAC overall title for the second straight year. SRU is 10-1 entering the playoffs, marking the first 10-win season for the program since 1999. The Rock will host No. 7 seed Virginia Union in the opening round Saturday at noon.
Six defensive linemen, including West Chester's Andrew Cohen, join Tucker on the national list of finalists. The only other offensive lineman on the finalist list is Lenoir-Rhyne guard Joe Ray.
The voting will take place over the next week and the winner will be announced Dec. 2. The winner will be invited to compete in the annual East-West Shrine Game in Florida this spring and will be honored at the Manheim Touchdown Club's annual banquet in May.
The NFL recognizes and supports the winner of the annual award by guaranteeing a place in the East-West Shrine game. The support comes as recognition and appreciation for the late Gene Upshaw, who was an All-Pro lineman for the Oakland Raiders and later served as the director of the NFL Players Association for 25 years.
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