When people discuss Columbia County’s top football products, Kyle Tudor’s name does not come up immediately. I am not sure why.
Perhaps it is because he only played defense during his days at Lakeside High School, or maybe it is because he missed half of his senior season with an injury.
For whatever reason he does not get the attention some other former players from the county do. That is a mistake. Tudor deserves the recognition. He is a starter at East Carolina, a Division I program that has produced the likes of 2,000-yard rusher Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans. If Tudor’s career arc continues on its current path, he should be primed for a huge 2013.
This season Tudor helped lead ECU to an 8-4 regular season, including a 7-1 record in Conference USA. The Pirates earned an invitation to the New Orleans Bowl, facing off against Louisiana-Lafayette. ECU lost the game 43-34 to finish the season 8-5.
Tudor started at inside linebacker all season and racked up 62 tackles, the fourth-highest on the team. He also had two tackles for loss, one sack, two pass breakups and a forced fumble. His season-best 11 tackles came in the team’s opening 35-13 win over Appalachian State.
Tudor had a stellar career at Lakeside. He piled up more than 200 tackles during his sophomore (97) and junior (109) seasons before an injury caused him to miss half his senior season in 2008. He still managed to record 60 tackles that year and received several scholarship offers. He decided on Division I East Carolina in Greenville, N.C.
Tudor, an excellent student, graduated Lakeside early and enrolled at ECU in January 2009. He immediately garnered praise from the coaching staff for his work in the weight room. He redshirted in 2009 and played sparingly, mostly as a special teamer, in 2010. Tudor got his opportunity in 2011 and seized it. Despite missing four games with a pair of injuries, Tudor ranked fourth on the team with 58 tackles. He was second on the team during conference play with 51 stops. He had three games with double-digit tackles, including a career-high 14 against the University of Texas at El Paso.
He didn’t slow down in the offseason. Tudor continued his work in the weight room, earning a “Super” rating during the team’s spring testing period. If he continues to progress they way he has so far, Tudor should have an excellent senior season in 2013. And with a vertical jump of 31.5 inches, a broad jump of 9 feet, 5 inches and a 4.7-second 40-yard dash, he likely will get a free agent look from some NFL teams.
From now on, when the discussion of the top football players hailing from Columbia County comes up, do not forget Kyle Tudor.
He deserves to be mentioned very early in that conversation.