POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — Up for a challenge.
On Sunday at PPJSHS, senior Tucker Mayes signed his National Letter of Intent to join both the West Virginia State University football and baseball teams.
“I really like a busy lifestyle, it’ll be great,” said Mayes. “I’ll play all fall, lift all winter, play all spring, and then lift all summer.”
On the gridiron, Tucker has been four-year member of the Big Blacks, starting on defense for three seasons and on offense for one. In four seasons at PPHS, Mayes has helped the team to a 42-5 record, with four straight appearances in the second round of the playoffs.
Point Pleasant head coach David Darst noted Mayes’ ability to quickly adapt to football at the varsity level.
“I was impressed by how quickly Tucker got himself on the football field here, he’s been a three-year starter,” said Darst. “He’s another great football player defensively, probably one of our top-2 defensive players. He’s really strong, very athletic, and he learned the game quickly. He turned around this year and played fullback and tightend for me offensively. He finished up in the top-10 in receptions and receiving yardage and touchdowns. He’s an all-around good football player.”
As a senior for PPHS, Mayes was named a second team linebacker on the All-West Virginia Class AA list and was chosen as the Ohio Valley Publishing Super 25 Defensive Player of the Year.
In his senior season, Mayes recorded 92 tackles, including 18 for a loss. He also came up with seven sacks, five forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
On offense as a senior, Mayes — who caught touchdown passes in both of the Big Blacks postseason tilts — hauled in 32 passes for 429 yards and eight touchdowns.
“Personally, I like defense better,” said Mayes. “I like to hit, it’s pretty much the thing I love about football. My best memories of football are all of my big hits.”
Mayes showed his knack for defense, and the big play, early in his high school career. As a sophomore, Tucker recovered a fumble in each the Class AAA quarterfinal and semifinal games. As a junior, Mayes picked off a pass in the opening round of the Class AA playoffs.
“He has tremendous hands, he catches the ball so well, and he’s so physical,” Darst said. “I look for those guys to develop him as a tightend or h-back, but I’d say if he wanted to he could make an impact on special teams right away. He likes to tackle, he likes to hit, he can get in there and do those things, and he’s a kid that enjoys the sport. I know he’s going to try to do baseball too, so it’ll be interesting to see how it all turns out. Doing one sport in college is a lot, two is a chore.”
Mayes — who’ll likely be a tightend for the Yellow Jackets — will be looking to make a smooth transition from his high school offense to the one he’ll be working in at WVSU.
“They run kind of a spread, sort of like we do,” Mayes said. “They have a tightend that can go out as a wide receiver, or back as a halfback, so I’m going to be all over the field.”
On the baseball field at WVSU, Mayes will look to play third base or outfield, while continuing to improve his power hitting game. Mayes is currently in his third season of varsity baseball at PPHS, and — at the time of his signing — has helped the Big Blacks to 32 victories in his career.
West Virginia State is an NCAA Division II school that competes in the Mountain East Conference. Located in Institute, W.Va. WVSU is less than an hour drive for many PPHS fans looking to follow Mayes’ college career.
“The whole coaching staff at Point Pleasant, baseball and football, have taught me everything I know,” Mayes said. “They didn’t let me slack, that’s for sure. My parents put me in a lot of extra workouts and extra instruction just to get to this point.”
Tucker also noted the role that former PPHS player and current Yellow Jacket, Dakotah Booth, played in getting him to West Virginia State.
“He’s one of the biggest reasons I’m going down there,” Mayes said of Booth. “He mentioned my name to the coaches, they looked me up, and I finally started talking to them. Coach got a hold of their coach and we went down for a meeting. They told me I could come down and play for them. Every time I’ve been down there everybody’s been really nice. The classrooms are really nice and I think that’s going to help me a lot.”
Mayes — who holds a 3.2 grade-point-average at PPHS — will be a Business major at WVSU.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.
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