WATCH | GPB Education Live Exploration: Georgia Electricity At 10 A.M.
Player Spotlight: Tucker's Duke Shelley
When the Tucker Tigers take the field tonight against MLK's Lions at Hallford Stadium, playmakers will be aplenty. And if history means anything, Tucker senior WR/DB Yaqeuis "Duke" Shelley is bound to impress. The Kansas State commit, a key piece on the defensive side of the ball and a player head coach Bryan Lamar calls one of the best athlete's he's ever coached, has also logged incredible career stats in the sometimes forgotten, but ever-important special teams department. In fact, Shelley can make special teams the phase of the game you crave to watch. Responsible for 18 total touchdowns in the 2013 season alone, Shelley caught 6 interceptions, 3 of which he returned for scores; 5 touchdowns on kickoff returns; 3 punt return touchdowns; 4 rushing touchdowns and 3 scores on pass receptions. "It's a gift to be able to return like that. You can't just run straight ahead. You've got to have a lot of vision…it's a lot of intangibles, not just being the fastest guy, not just being the quickest guy…and it's about being able to catch too," said Coach Lamar. As the 4-star recruit steps up to the next level in college's premier division, his work in the Midwest will be primarily in the secondary. In the middle of the SEC heartland, one may wonder how the Wildcats beat out the likes of Tennessee and Mississippi State and other big-name programs like Clemson, Oregon, Georgia Tech and Wisconsin, where he also had offers. Coach Lamar and his versatile playmaker attest to the fact that style of play in the Big 12 had a lot to do with that final decision. "It gives him the opportunity to play in a conference that's known for throwing the ball around and gives him a chance to win. Kansas State wants the best cornerbacks they can find," said Lamar. Shelley says a pass-happy offense, combined with chemistry on the coaching staff did the trick. "They're a pass-oriented offense so you have a lot of chances to make plays and get a lot of sacks ...and also the relationship with the coaches and the DB coaches, the defensive coordinator. He's somebody that I can relate to, that I feel has the best chance of developing me as a player." Another plus? The Wildcats plans on making use of his athleticism and versatility. "I'll be playing corner but they're also using me on special teams so that's something I'm looking forward to. They can provide that for me. Gives me a better chance to get on receivers and make plays." As mentioned before, history's knack of repeating itself could mean big things tonight for the Tigers. If that is in fact the case, expect a show from the 5-foot-9, 155-pound senior. A football career already chock full of big-time plays is, in his mind, highlighted by his production in last year's defeat of the Lions. "Last year when we played MLK, I returned two special teams touchdowns and got an interception for a touchdown too. I had a reception for a touchdown as well. So I think that's probably biggest standout thing I've done so far." From what he's seen on tape, his defending on the corner has lots of potential tonight. And Shelley says he won't let the two shutouts the Lions have experienced to start the 2014 season (30-0 loss to Norland; 34-0 loss to Mays) blur his vision. "It can be on me, especially because they pass the ball ninety percent of the time. And they do have the athletes to get it done. I just think they've had a couple bad, bad things happen to keep them out of scoring range, doing some things to shoot themselves in the foot. But I just treat every situation as life or death because I don't want the first touchdown to be on me."