It is hard to believe it has been five years since Kyle Tudor last suited up for the Lakeside Panthers football team. In those five years, Tudor packed on nearly 40 pounds of muscle and became a solid college linebacker.
Tudor battled injuries as a senior at Lakeside, but still managed to attract interest from Division I programs. In the end, he chose to play at East Carolina.
He immediately impressed the coaching staff with his work in the weight room. After redshirting in 2009 and playing very sparingly as a freshman in 2010, his hard work began to pay off in 2011.
Then a sophomore, Tudor tallied 58 tackles. That was good for fourth best on the team, despite the fact that he had played in only eight games because of a knee injury, and made only four starts. Last season, as a junior, Tudor again was fourth on the team with a career-best 62 tackles. He played in all 13 games for the Pirates, making eight starts.
Tudor was primed to have a big senior campaign in 2013. College football guru Phil Steele even tabbed Tudor as a preseason all Conference USA choice. Tudor, now a full-time starter for ECU, has not disappointed. Playing in 11 of 12 contests for the 9-3 Pirates, Tudor has racked up a career high 65 tackles, including 30 solo stops. He also has 3 tackles for loss, one sack, and three pass breakups.
Tudor’s play has been a big reason ECU has been able to post a nine-win season, including wins over a pair of ACC teams in North Carolina and N.C. State. Tudor also had a special moment on Senior Day he will not soon forget. Playing in his final home game, Tudor capped an emotional day with a 50 yard interception return for a TD as ECU trounced UAB 63-14. He finished the day with six tackles, a tackle for loss, a sack, and an interception return for a score.
East Carolina is 9-3 on the season and current projections have them playing Maryland on Dec. 27 in Miltary Bowl in Annapolis, Md. For the now 6-3, 242-pound former Panther, this may be his final collegiate game, but his career may not be over.
Earlier this season when ECU took on Virginia Tech, Tudor missed the game with a shoulder injury. Prior to the game (ECU lost 15-10), www.nfl.com did a write-up on the game and mentioned Tudor as a potential third day draft selection in April’s NFL draft. They described him as “a good athlete with strength.” CBS Sports and NFL Draft Scout have Tudor ranked in the Top 45 players at his position.
Tudor still has a bowl game and likely a few senior all star games to participate in, but a pro career is a possibility. Even if Tudor does not hear his name called late in the draft, he will almost certainly be signed as a free agent and be invited to an NFL Camp.