TIMBER LAKE, S.D. (KELO) — SDSU fans and people across South Dakota will be tuning in to the NFL Draft this week to watch the future of Timber Lake native and former Jackrabbit football player, Tucker Kraft. He is expected to be the latest South Dakotan to hear his name called.
We talked to Tucker’s high school football coach, Ryan Gimbel, and mom, Tausha Kraft, about what it means to see the SDSU standout come this far.
Timber Lake – a town with a population of about 500 people in north-central South Dakota, could soon pride itself as being the hometown of an NFL player.
Gimbel coached Tucker throughout his high school career.
“As a coach, it’s kind of an unreal thing. It’s something that I feel very privileged to have been a part of. Not every coach gets to say they watched a kid when he was a freshman in high school, be 6 feet tall, 170 pounds, soaking wet, grow into the mountain of a man he is today. And just to be a part of his journey and see that going along, it’s just a surreal thing,” Gimbel said.
No matter what happens or where Tucker ends up, Gimbel says the community will be backing him.
“Timber Lake is going to roar, and it doesn’t matter where he goes, who he goes for, whether you’re a fan of one team or another, wherever he goes, we’re all fans now,” Gimbel said.
Tucker’s mom Tausha says it’s just hit her the last couple of days of what’s about to happen next.
“It’s just a good feeling. Everybody, and the camaraderie, and everybody congratulating him and ‘good luck’ and ‘we’ve got your back’ and ‘we’re going to support wherever you go.’ And the hard work he’s put in, like right now he’s out in the garage working out. You would think that he’d just take a day and just enjoy the moment but he doesn’t,” Tausha said.
And from the time he was just a young kid to where he is now, she is thankful and proud of how far he’s come.
“He was so naughty when he was little. Oh my God, was he naughty! After about 10, 12, 13-years-old, he started maturing, and I am so glad that we made it this far,” Tausha said.
Tucker’s dad, Doug Kraft, died in 2013 – strengthening the love even more between Tucker and his mom.
“Him and I have been super close after Doug passed away. Him and I were best friends, and whether we liked it or not, we were in each other’s world,” Tausha said.
And wherever he ends up, Tausha will be there cheering him on.
“Apparently it’s called smothering. I can’t move in with him, but I’m going to be pretty close,” she said.
They also want to add how thankful they are for all the support from people in Timber Lake, the SDSU community and across the state.
Friends and family will be gathering with Tucker for a watch party on Friday.