Conference USA’s virtual media day kicked off the 2021 season with the 49ers’ home opener against Duke less than 50 days away. Will Healy starts his third season leading the Niners following a 2-4 season in 2020, notching a 9-10 record overall at Charlotte.
A new season comes with new expectations and challenges, but Healy’s focus remains the same.
“I’m looking forward to being able to get back on track,” said Healy. “I’m proud of our guys for how they responded throughout the entire 2020 year. I know that anytime we lose a football game around here it’s unacceptable. But I cannot be more excited about the team we have coming back and the leadership we have coming back. We’ve grown a lot.”
While there are key leaders returning on both sides of the ball, there’s a litany of transfers and incoming freshmen that must find ways to contribute. Senior linebacker Tyler Murray transferred from Troy just two seasons ago and has grown into the leader of the defense.
“I just want to see guys work,” Murray said. “The coaching staff is one of the best that I’ve been a part of. They teach us life lessons outside of football. The culture here, man. I fell in love with it as soon as I saw the difference between my old school (Troy) and new school.”
With so many moving pieces with the transfer portal, one thing has remained the same for the past three years, and that’s the consistency of senior wideout Victor Tucker.
Over the last three seasons, the 49er faithful has been blessed by a true number one receiver in Tucker, who will be wearing number one in his final season with the program. Tucker has led the team in receptions and receiving yards since 2018 and had his breakout season during the 2019 campaign. He averaged nearly 18 yards per catch on his way to 909 yards and 7 touchdowns. The Miami Gardens native is the most explosive player on the offense and has the ability to take it the distance any time he touches the ball.
When asked about the toughest defensive back he has matched up within Conference USA, Victor displayed the killer mentality that we’ve come to know.
“To be honest, it’s more about me and my mentality. None of them come to mind. I’m all about dominating whoever is in front of me, so nobody, none of em’ are good.”
Tucker and quarterback Chris Reynolds have been with the program for going on five years and have seen firsthand how the program has grown since Will Healy stepped in. The 36-year old head coach reflected on his growth over the past two seasons:
“The one thing I knew before I got into it is that I feel like the foundation of the whole thing is who you surround yourself with. I’m really fortunate, number one, I love who I come into the office with every day I have so much fun in my job. And number two, we’ve got an unbelievable group of young men that are so much fun to coach. I think you learn more and more as you go through it but, you know, but there’s one thing I know, and that’s that as I’ve surrounded myself with unbelievable people, and this is the greatest profession on the face of the planet,” Healy said. “I know we’re not where we want to be yet, but I believe in what this job is and what this place is, and what we are becoming. I’m looking forward to taking another big step this year.”