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Mr. Tuke should be pulling into Cambridge right about now.
He's driving all the way out from Cincinnati to watch his boy, John, play against Colgate this afternoon.
Huh? Who? What?
Maybe we'd better back up a little.
John Tuke is Harvard's football version of the Rennaissance Man. He starts at adjuster for the Crimson defense, a polite Ivy League name for what's called the "monster man" in the Midwest. It's a position that combines the pursuit of a lineman, the hard tackling of a linebacker, and the receiver-coverage of a defensive back.
And while broken vertebrae and muddy multi-flexes have grabbed the ink of the first two football weeks. Tuke's been latching on to opposing ankles and legs, and in last week's rainy loss to UMass he came up with his first interception of the year.
John Tuke's been adjusting very well so far.
And today his dad is going to see him play against Colgate.
"Football is a family thing," the blond-haired Ohioan remarked after knocking off from his job as a busboy at the Faculty Club. "My brother made all-conference at Denison University and my dad played some at Miami of Ohio, so I guess I sort of expected myself to play."
But Tuke is not the Ron Patimkin-type jock that one assumes comes out of the Buckeye State like bottles at a beer factory, but rather a kind of model of the down-to-earth Midwesterner. He came to Harvard four years ago possibly to pursue a collegiate football career, and not be pursued by it.
"I came here so I wouldn't have the burden of a scholarship hanging over my head," he said. "That way if I quit there was no guilt because there was no pressure to begin with."
Needless to say, Tuke didn't quit. An all-state safety out of St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, he started for the 1974 freshman team at safety and was second on the team in tackles. His eventual shift to adjuster came in the middle of his sophomore year and last year he backed up Lou Rice while seeing considerable action on special teams.
Up the Ladder
The ladder to start-dom complete, Tuke sees his football experience at Harvard as "very positive. I've gotten more out of it than I've put in."
Currently a history major, John's off-the-gridiron exploits include a championship in the 160-180 pound division of the wristwrestling matches held last spring at Kirkland House.
But Tuke's greatest prize from Harvard was not of an athletic nature. "After spending all my life in Cincinnati, it was an experience being thrown into a completely new environment and having to deal with it on my own," he said.
Speaking of new environments, Mr. Tuke is spending the night in Eliot House. Maybe adjusting is a "family thing" also.
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