Tucker’s Sealand a talented mix of athletics and academics
The first game of his junior season changed everything for Jacob Sealand. All the clutter in his mind about learning formations and transferring what he learned in practice to the game were gone.
He started having fun.
“After my first sack against Southwest DeKalb it just happened,” said Sealand, a senior linebacker at Tucker. “I started celebrating, looking like a fool jumping around out there, but I was having fun. I didn’t ever really notice how intense I was until people told me they couldn’t talk to me on Fridays.”
Tucker coach Franklin Stephens and opposing coaches know there is much more substance to Sealand’s game that the occasional celebratory growl after making a big play. He’s an important part of a strong defense for the No. 1 Tigers.
“He’s a very intelligent kid and football player,” Stephens said. “He plays extremely hard and has the intanglibles.”
Stephens noticed a difference in Sealand during spring practice.
“I watched the way he was reading different plays,” Stephens said. “The speed of his feet and his ability to decipher what was going on really separates him from most other linebackers.”
Sealand’s knowledge of the game, his intensity and his high academics earned him a scholarship offer from Vanderbilt, among many other schools. Sealand will bring a 3.8 grade point average to Vandy, as well as a truckload of leadership skills he hones on and off the field.
Away from football, Sealand is a member of the National Honor Society, Beta Club, Young Life and Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Tucker. He also is a teacher cadet, and spends time twice a week going to an elementary school to assist a teacher and work with the students. In addition, Stephens takes players to Livsey Elementary before school on Thursdays to help the teachers there.
“My dreams were never to play in the NFL,” Sealand said. “My dream was to play in the SEC and have a good job after that. I plan on taking advantage of being at Vandy.”
Stephens, in his fifth season at the school, has been a big influence to his players both on and off the field. Tucker is 54-6 under Stephens and he led the Tigers to their only state title in 2008. And it has made a large impression on Sealand.
“I definitely see what coach Stephens does in a bigger way,” Sealand said. “He influences all of us. He instills a work ethic in you that you can’t get rid of.”
Stephens saw that work ethic in full force this past summer from Sealand. He and the rest of the team endured summer conditioning workouts that consisted of three days of weight training and three days of running each week.
“You can tell a lot about a kid by the way he handles conditioning,” Stephens said. “He pushes himself through the pain of conditioning at an extremely high level. He stood out more and more this summer.”
The conditioning, plus the physical and mental maturity over the past two seasons has helped Sealand develop into one of the top linebackers in the state. Through the first five games Sealand leads Tucker in tackles and fumbles caused.
Seland has come a long way since being told he wasn’t ready for varsity as a sophomore.
“There was a mental wall I couldn’t break through,” Sealand said. “Before junior year, mentally I worked a lot harder and knew I was a better player. I decided to pick up the intensity and have fun.”
He’s been doing that ever since, and is the emotional leader of the team along with standout Josh Dawson.
“I just want to have fun hitting people,” Sealand said.