- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 7, 2017

FLORENCE, Ala. (AP) - Jacob Tucker is living proof good things come to those who wait.

After redshirting as a freshman and serving as a backup quarterback at North Alabama for three seasons, Tucker finally became the starter for the Lions in 2016. The Linden, Tennessee native made the most of his opportunity, leading the Lions to the Division II Championship Game and finishing third in voting for the Harlon Hill Trophy, awarded to the top player in Division II.

Tucker has picked up several other awards, including being named the state’s Small College Athlete of the Year by the Alabama Sports Writers Association. He’ll be presented with the award Sunday night in Hoover.

“Just to be nominated for such an award is a great honor and I’m very excited to have been selected,” Tucker said. “So many others did a great job for us this year and as the quarterback I’m just lucky to have my name stamped on it. I’m just fortunate everything fell into place like it did.

“Being patient really paid off for me. Even though I had not been a starter the guys really got behind me and worked hard. It was a great run and I’m grateful because not many teams get to experience a season with so many great memories like we had.”

Tucker was the focal point of UNA’s offense, not just with his passing but also with his running ability. With Tucker leading the way, UNA finished with an 8-1 record in the regular season and won a record fourth-straight GSC championship. The Lions rolled through the first four rounds of the Division II playoffs, reaching the championship game before losing to Northwest Missouri.

After passing for 2,840 yards and 21 touchdowns and rushing for 928 yards and 16 scores, Tucker was named the 2016 GSC Offensive Player of the Year. He recently was honored as the male winner of the Gulf South Conference Commissioner’s Trophy as the top student-athlete in the conference.

“You love to see a guy who has been so unselfish do well,” former UNA coach Bobby Wallace said at last week’s GSC Top Ten awards ceremony. “I was all set to retire after the 2015 season, but I told my wife I just wasn’t going to miss coaching Jacob’s senior year after what he had done for our team. Not many people with his talent would have stuck around and been as patient as he was.”

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Information from TimesDaily: www.timesdaily.com

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