Tucker is a guest of our resort during his training! He proudly drives a Dodge Cummins 6-speed with a gooseneck hitch for his 5th wheel toy hauler. We can say we “knew him when!”
It takes a rare breed of athlete to be a successful NFL kicker, and gifted prospect Lloyd Tucker may just have what it takes. The Colorado native is going through the paces this offseason under the tutelage of renowned former NFL kicker Michael Husted (Raiders, Buccaneers, Redskins, Chiefs), and will likely give scouts quite a show on April 19 when they congregate in Southern California for the annual special teams NFL tryout.
“I’ve been working my tail off the past few months, and my coach is happy with where I’m at right now,” says Tucker, who has been training in the San Diego area since January. “We’ve been working 2-3 times per week together, and I’m kicking really well with my new form, regularly kicking 60-yarders.”
Kicking 60-yarders is nothing new for the raw talent. A late-comer to the game of football, the Roaring Fork High School soccer and track star joined the gridiron squad as a position player. Then one game, with a significant lead, the coach recalled Tucker’s soccer background and offered to let him kick off. The football sailed through the end zone, leaving spectators speechless. He soon became the team’s first-string kicker, and got a quick two-hour lesson from then Broncos kicker Jason Treadwell on technique.
From Gridiron to Powder…and Back Again
During fall of his freshman year of college, he walked on at Western State Colorado University, made the team, and then postponed his enrollment to pursue a competitive ski-cross career. “I toured the country on the U.S. Freeride Tour and competed in ski-cross and big mountain, ranking 18th in the nation at one point, and winning the Kirkwood 2005 North American Freeride Championships,” he explains.
But Tucker continued to feel a tug toward the football field—and returned to Western State as a red shirt sophomore. He beat out the team’s kicker, and continued a rotation of football in the fall and ski-cross in the winter. “The skiing really helped maintain my leg strength,” he shares. “I ended up competing in the X-Games in 2007 and went on to also compete on the Honda Ski Tour and the Jeep King of the Mountain.”
In 2008, his strong showing the previous year opened doors to compete in World Cup events, the NorAm, and Europe Cup. His ultimate goal was to make the 2010 USA Olympic Team, but an untimely injury dashed his hopes for Gold. “I crashed and broke my collarbone on January 26, 2009, and recovered to compete again, only to break my other collarbone on January 26, 2010,” Tucker says. “I was officially an Olympic alternate that year, and the whole thing was a real bummer.”
“I decided to go back to football; one, because I missed it, and two, because I was tired of being cold all the time in the snow,” he laughs.
Back to the Gridiron
Western Colorado State was struggling in the kicking position that year, and gladly welcomed the veteran back to the squad. He ended his junior year of college with a record-breaking 61-yard field goal. For reference, the NFL’s current record is 64 yards, nailed by Denver’s Matt Prater in December 2013.
During his remaining season, he finished breaking all school kicking records, and was named All-Conference. His performance as NCAA DII Player of the Week earned him an appearance at a top bowl game, where he caught the eye of a few scouts. He met current coach Michael Husted, and trained hard to prepare for the 2013 NFL tryout. Four days prior, though, he tore the quad on his kicking leg, and while his place kicks that day were on mark, he didn’t have the strength to fully perform kickoffs.
A New Year
Enter 2014, a fresh start with new goals, a healthy body, an NFL-worthy kicking form, and the perfect easy going personality to handle the mental pressure of blasting a pigskin through the uprights. “As a kicker, you have to be relaxed and focused, but also be strong physically as you prepare to kick. It’s definitely 90-percent mental. I mentally go to a place I call ‘Lloyd-land’ and totally let everything go.”
And while Tucker may possess the common cool demeanor of a seasoned kicker, his path to the NFL will continue to be fascinating, to say the least.