Credit: BB Pranay / The Daily Pennsylvanian
Seeking a repeat title, Penn sprint football just got a big boost — literally.
The Collegiate Sprint Football League ruled former New York Giants defensive end and current Wharton graduate student Justin Tuck eligible to suit up for the Red and Blue. As a result, Tuck will become the first player with NFL experience to compete in the CSFL in the league’s 84-year history.
“Kid looks fast, big, strong, real thick body, could definitely do some good things for us,” Penn coach Bill Wagner said. “He’s a load, baby. We can always use a kid like that who can get after the quarterback. I mean you just gotta get back there, wrap up and take him to the ground, baby. We can coach him up real good, man we got over a hundred years of experience on this staff.”
After completing his first fall without playing football since early childhood, Tuck — still only 33 years old — expressed an interest in returning soon after this season’s Super Bowl, but simultaneously wanted to continue his pursuit of a Wharton MBA.
Being ineligible to play for Penn’s traditional football team because of the NCAA’s amateurism requirements, the natural solution was for the two-time Super Bowl champion to look toward the CSFL — and when the nine coaches voted on the situation, three voted against him playing, one voted for him, and the other five were unaware of how to operate the online poll.
Thus, Tuck will have an opportunity to step into the mix immediately, with him and rising junior Drew Williams expected to anchor the overhauled Red and Blue front.
“I feel I can do some big things, but nothing is given to me,” said Tuck, a two-time Pro Bowler who finished his NFL career with 66.5 sacks. “It doesn’t matter what I did before; you gotta earn those reps on the practice field, so I’m gonna show up ready to get mine.”
Of course, Tuck still has to make weight in order to be considered for playing time. Listed at 265 pounds, Tuck will have an awfully long way to go, as the current league limit to compete is 178 pounds.
“Anytime there is a weight consideration, we really like to make sure that any kind of changes in weight are done in a really safe and healthy way,” Penn sports nutritionist Jill Joseph said. “I’ll just try to educate him well so we can make it into that range.”
And if Tuck is able to pull it off, Penn might just get that extra push to stay atop the CSFL world.
“We got some kids that can really play, baby. This reminds me a lot of the ‘98 team back with Timmy Ortman. Man those kids did a hell of a job, beat Navy to get a share of the title, those kids really had respect for the game,” Wagner said. “It could be a special year. I really think we can win the ‘lig.”