Baltimore Ravens Kicker Tells Roanoke Student-Athletes to Be Leaders

Texas native Justin Tucker visits Tidwell Middle School for surprise pep talk

By Brian Scott
|  Thursday, Mar 7, 2013  |  Updated 7:22 PM CDT
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The starting placekicker for the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens encouraged student athletes at a Roanoke middle school to be leaders on the field and in class.

Justin Tucker gave a surprise pep talk at Tidwell Middle School on Thursday morning.

"Kind of what I told the kids today is, 'Listen to your coaches and your parents and your teachers because they've been there before and you've got to make the grades if you want to play,'" he said.

"A individual who has set goals, has gone through adversity and made it to the ultimate level, the NFL -- it's an important message to share with the kids," Principal Shane Conklin said.

Tucker, whose girlfriend's sister works at Tidwell, told students that other players, such as fellow Austin native Drew Brees, his parents and God inspire him to greatness. He also treated them to his rendition of Ray Lewis' signature tunnel dance.

"Talking to kids at a school is one of the most rewarding things that we get to do," Tucker said afterward.

His message seemed to resonate with the students. Several rushed up for autographs and pictures after speech, which lasted about 15 minutes.

"It was inspiring, because I want to be a professional sports player, too," eighth-grader Ansley Bunger said. "I want to be a soccer player."

"It shows that I can actually do something and make it big like Mr. Tucker," school quarterback Ryan Wainscott said.

Tucker said Thursday's visit to Roanoke wouldn't be his last trip to spread inspiration at a Texas school.

He had a standout rookie season with Ravens, which culminated with the team's Super Bowl win in February.

He hit three game-winning field goals during the season, including the one that sent Baltimore to the AFC Championship. He also ran the first fake field goal attempt in Super Bowl history.

Before entering the NFL last year, Tucker played for Texas.

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