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Returning Player Refresher: Ethan Tucky

Tucky’s time as a backup is likely over and that means the Bearcats can keep creating pressure at an accelerated rate.

East Carolina v Cincinnati Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Ethan Tucky finally got onto the field for the Cincinnati Bearcats last season and after providing depth to the defensive line, he should be an even more integral member of the unit in 2019. Originally a Boston College recruit, Tucky didn’t make an appearance for the Eagles in 2016 and then wound his way to the Bearcats. Following his transfer to UC, he was forced to sit out another year in 2017, which might have allowed him time to acclimate to his new surroundings but still meant he went two seasons without playing live football.

After waiting all that time, Tucky didn’t take too long to prove that he was a strong addition to the Bearcats’ defense. Although he was cast in an an understudy role in 2018, he lent a ton of support to the starters up front, allowing players like Cortez Broughton, Marquise Copeland, Kimoni Fitz and Michael Pitts to share the load. He was primarily a backup on the edge as a defensive end but was also utilized in the similar JACK position along with Pitts. That is his listed position on this year’s roster so its clear that the Bearcats are eager for him to continue to create pressure and havoc in opposing backfields.

Tucky proved that he could handle such responsibilities last season, appearing in all 13 games of the 2018 campaign, although he never made a start. That was to be expected with the level of talent further up on the depth chart. Still, the fact that he was a regular contributor can only mean that his playing time is about to receive a boost now that Broughton, Copeland and Fitz have moved on. With the opportunities he had last season, Tucky produced 25 total tackles, including 15 solo efforts and four tackles for loss. He also had a pair of quarterback sacks and the same number of quarterback hits. Like many of his fellow linemen, he displayed active hands on the line and that yielded some pass defense benefits as he broke up two passes. In addition, he secured a fumble recovery and blocked a kick.

If there was a game where Tucky proved himself the most, it was when the Bearcats faced Tulane in early October. Tucky racked up three tackles and a sack in the 37-21 victory. He also did well for himself in the final games of the year, producing half of his tackles for loss production between the regular season finale against East Carolina and the Military Bowl against Virginia Tech.

The 2019 season should be a big one for Tucky. He has already flashed the ability to make an impact and with the makeup of the current roster, he is one of the top returning defensive linemen on a team that has made real strides in creating pressure. Assuming the Bearcats will continue to make that a big part of their defensive strategy — and they would be foolish not to do so — expect Tucky to help lead the charge.