Tyler Dunlop, a two-time All-Great American Conference and 2019 All-America punter for the Arkansas Tech University football program, is the 2020 John Tucker Award winner as the most outstanding senior male student-athlete at ATU.
Dunlop was selected for the honor by the ATU Faculty Athletic Committee. Nominations are made by ATU head coaches based upon student-athletes’ athletic achievement, academic record and community service involvement.
A native of Hurst, Texas, Dunlop transferred to Arkansas Tech in spring 2018 after completing his associate degree at Tyler Junior College (Texas).
Upon arriving at ATU, a new workout regimen pushed Dunlop beyond what he believed his limits were.
“The first spring was tough,” said Dunlop. “It was a totally new experience.”
His hard work paid off over the course of the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Dunlop punted 111 times for 4,730 yards over the span of two years as the Wonder Boys’ primary punter.
He averaged 42.6 yards per punt for his career, including a career-long punt of 68 yards. Twenty-three of his punts were downed inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. He ranked top two in the GAC in punting average during both of his seasons at ATU.
Dunlop was voted All-GAC second team in 2018 and 2019. He was named a Don Hansen NCAA Division II All-America third-team selection in recognition of his performance during his senior year, when he averaged 44.1 yards per punt.
Looking back, Dunlop credits the same strength and conditioning program that put him through those grueling workouts in spring 2018 as being integral in his success as a Wonder Boy.
“(Punting) is something I’ve grown up doing,” said Dunlop. “Coming to Tech helped me, especially with the strength and conditioning program. Coach (Mike) Golden helped me take the next step. I’ve always been good at it, and he took it to the next level.”
Community service was another new experience that Dunlop gained during his two years at Arkansas Tech.
“Balancing it all was fun and challenging,” said Dunlop. “It was rewarding because those kids look up to us. They got so excited to see us when we would do high-five Fridays at the elementary school. And then the Boys and Girls Club…we loved hanging out with those kids regardless of whether it was playing basketball or shooting pool. I’d never volunteered like that before I got to Tech. It was nice to see the community that much behind us.”
Dunlop also excelled in the classroom. He was a GAC All-Academic selection and graduated from ATU in December 2019 with a 3.77 grade point average and a Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice and criminology. He is pursuing career opportunities in law enforcement.
He hopes to find camaraderie in his career field similar to what he enjoyed at Arkansas Tech.
“Definitely the friendships,” said Dunlop when asked about the highlight of his ATU experience. “I got really close with all of my roommates and the guys on the team, especially our kicking group. We were all super close. The relationships that were built helped me adjust to being five hours away from home.”
As result of his experience, Dunlop encourages the next wave of ATU students to be bold in their pursuit of higher education and personal development.
“Jump right in,” said Dunlop. “Don’t let it scare you. It’s college. It’s fun. It’s exciting. Immerse yourself in the whole experience, meet new people and make new friends. Live it the best you can.”