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It’s not as easy to find, but they are out there . . .
Alijah Vera-Tucker is what you are looking for in a player, in so many ways.
Not just a really good player, but the consummate team player.
He’s not a “me-me-me” guy.
In a society suffering from a narcissism epidemic, quintessential team players like Vera-Tucker are harder and harder to find.
In college, players are entering the transfer portal at the drop of a hat – bailing when they don’t like their role or their playing time. Players are getting NIL payments before they have proved anything on the college level. That can’t be good for a young athlete’s mindset. Some guys are more concerned with TikTok videos and their brand than the team.
You gotta be careful with these kinds of guys in the draft. Some might not be wired right – more concerned with themselves than the team.
On Tuesday, for Vera-Tucker addressed his surprising move to right guard for the first time this off-season. Robert Saleh made the announcement about the move on March 28, at the NFL Owner’s Meeting. After Mike Garofolo announced the Jets’ signing of veteran left guard Laken Tomlinson on March 14, people wondered who was going to play left guard and who was moving to right guard. Vera-Tucker played left guard as a rookie for the Jets.
Well two weeks after Garofolo’s announcement, Saleh clarified the team’s plan:
“Laken had a lot of success at left guard in this league,” Saleh said. “He was a Pro Bowler last year and that’s something you don’t want to mess with him. AVT will be fine. He’s still young and still learning. He’s very, very athletic and will be able to pick it up quick.”
A lot of young players wouldn’t like this. Think about it. Vera-Tucker is coming off a terrific rookie season at left guard, and now you are asking him to switch sides, after his second season. This isn’t as easy as it might sound. You have to change your footwork, hand technique and so forth. To some, it’s like being left-handed and being asked to write right-handed. Everything is reversed.
But Vera-Tucker, who is all about the team, didn’t blink an eye.
“I found out that [Tomlinson] got signed, [the Jets] called me immediately after, and talked to me about it, like I said, I wasn’t worried about it at all. I actually told them, “Hey, I’m going to move to right guard,'” Vera Tucker explained earlier this week.
Vera-Tucker played some right guard as a freshman at USC, but didn’t start. Then as a sophomore, he started at left guard and then as a junior, at left tackle.
So yes, he did play right guard at one point, but very little, filling in here and there as a freshman. He has started on the left side the last three years, two at USC and one with the Jets.
It would be ideal for him to just stay on the left side and continue in his comfort zone, but the team had a chance to sign a Pro Bowl left guard, so he’s moving to the right side, and not putting up a fight about it, because it’s what the team needs.
“It wasn’t a big deal to me and I didn’t treat it like that either,” Vera-Tucker said. “It’s cool.”
And it’s cool for the Jets to have a young player with such a great team-first attitude.
Expecially in an era with narcissism running amok.
These kinds of guys are not as easy to find, but they are still out there.
April 27, 2022
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