Tucker Hull is used to being one of the best players on the field every time he plays lacrosse.
After a standout career at Providence High, Hull already is one of the best players at the U.S. Naval Academy as a true freshman.
Hull currently leads the team with 34 points, including 20 goals (second on the team) and 14 assists, all while going through his plebe year at Navy.
"It's unusual that any freshmen get to play a lot here," said Navy lacrosse coach Richie Meade, who is in his 15th year as the head coach of the Midshipmen. "But because of the circumstances and his ability, he is getting an opportunity, and I think he is taking full advantage of it."
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Navy has made the NCAA tournament six consecutive times and won 73 percent of its games in that span. The Midshipmen's run also includes an appearance in the title game in 2004 and the semifinals in 2005.
This season, Navy has started a bit slower, at 4-7, probably due to a mixture of youth and inexperience, injuries to key players and the move of standout Andy Warner (22 goals, 15 assists last year) from attack back to midfield.
Hull has scored more than once in eight games, including a four-goal effort in a double-overtime loss to Bucknell. Hull is not alone as a first-year success, as fellow plebe Sam Jones - who played with Hull at Naval Prep Academy in Newport, R.I., last season - is also playing well, with a team-best 22 goals.
"I definitely wasn't expecting to play this much, this fast," Hull said. "But after the first game, I think I really settled in and felt I can play college lacrosse. Before that, I had no idea what to expect."
Hull broke out in his first game, scoring two goals on 10 shots to help lead Navy to a 14-8 win against Virginia Military Institute.
Hull has been consistent throughout the year, scoring three goals against both Georgetown and Lafayette, as well as two in games against Towson and North Carolina.
While Hull, 20, is playing well on the field, the challenge at Navy is to balance athletics with the rigorous academic and military requirements.
"Lacrosse is such a small part of my life at Navy," Hull said. "It's been a big adjustment getting used to life here, with school, military stuff and lacrosse. But I think I am getting used to it and finding a way to make them all work."
In high school, Hull had a 3.22 GPA (good for 36th in his class) at Providence while leading the Panthers to a 22-1 record and a state championship his senior year. Hull also was a high school All-American his junior and senior seasons and one of the best players ever to play in Charlotte, according to several local high school lacrosse coaches.
"I think I owe a lot of my success now to what I learned at Providence under coach (William) Humphery," Hull said.
"Providence really set the foundation for my game, especially playing on what was like a North Carolina dream team, with players like Braxton Deaver (Duke), Konner Scroggins (Hobart and Williams Smith College) and Pete Wesselman (Stevenson University)."
Now the challenge will be for Hull to keep improving from his freshman to his senior season at Navy, just as he did at Providence High.
Meade, one of the most respected lacrosse coaches in the NCAA, feels equally as strong about Hull.
"Hull wants to be good, and you can tell that by watching him," Meade said. "He's a good learner and has the type of attitude that he knows he has a lot to learn. As a player, the sky is the limit for Tucker Hull."