By Rubin E. Grant
When the Samford Bulldogs opened their 2018 season last week against Shorter University, senior long snapper Tyler Queen from Vestavia Hills was wearing the Charles Williams Memorial Jersey.
His younger brother, Tucker Queen, a sophomore defensive back, said he couldn’t think of anyone more deserving to wear the No. 5 jersey, which is awarded to a different senior leader each season.
“He deserves it 100 percent,” Tucker said. “He works hard and pushes me and the rest of our teammates to work hard.”
The jersey is given in honor of Charles Williams, who played for Samford during the 2001 and 2002 seasons before being killed in a car accident in 2003, leaving behind a legacy of selflessness, perseverance and determination. The inaugural jersey was awarded in 2005.
Now, Tyler gets to carry on the tradition.
“It’s a huge honor,” Tyler said. “It shows how much my teammates love me and how much I want to love them back.
“Being a long snapper, you only get to play about eight snaps a game, but I’m going to try to make the biggest impact I can and be the best player I can be.”
Tyler, who turned 23 on Aug. 31, almost didn’t go to Samford to play college football. He had decided to go to Auburn after graduating from Vestavia Hills in 2014 and just be a student. But former Samford head coach Pat Sullivan and Jay Chapman, the Bulldogs’ director of football operations, persuaded him to attend Samford and continue playing football.
Tyler is glad he did.
“It’s been an awesome experience,” he said. “I’ve gotten to play against some big schools like TCU and Auburn. I joined Sigma Nu (fraternity), been involved in Young Life and have gotten a great education.”
Tucker, 19, decided to follow his brother to Samford after graduating from Vestavia Hills in 2017.
“He was part of the reason I came,” said Tucker.
Last fall was the first time the brothers were on the same team at the same time. Because of their 3½-year age difference, they didn’t get to be teammates at Vestavia Hills.
“It’s interesting,” Tucker said. “I get to see him every day, and if I’m doing something I shouldn’t be doing, he’ll find out.”
Tyler played linebacker and defensive end at Vestavia Hills, but when he was in seventh grade, his dad persuaded him to become a long snapper.
“He told me I could be good at it and it was the easiest way to get into college,” Tyler said. “I didn’t know you could be recruited as a long snapper. I am glad I decided to do it.”
Tucker played in the secondary for the Rebels during his high school career.
The brothers are extremely close and started playing football in elementary school, Tyler in the first grade and Tucker in the second grade.
“He was so much bigger and I had to wait until I was in the second grade because I was a stick,” Tucker said with a laugh.
The size difference is still noticeable. Tyler is 6 feet, 1 inch tall and 220 pounds. Tucker is 5 feet, 10 inches tall and 180 pounds. Tucker, however, has much more speed.
“He’s got the speed, but I’ve got the looks,” Tyler cracked.
The brothers enjoy trading barbs.
“He picks on me and likes getting under my skin,” Tucker said.
“He’s very easy to get flustered,” Tyler said.
A Football Family
Both have benefited from having a dad who’s a coach. Sammy Queen has been an assistant at Vestavia Hills for 13 years after spending 10 years as head coach at Pelham. He’s currently the Rebels’ offensive coordinator.
“I don’t know where we’d be without him,” Tyler said. “He coached us since we could walk. He made us into good players and taught us how to be a man.”
Sammy Queen’s influence is why Tucker wants to follow in his dad’s footsteps.
“I want to be a coach because of him,” Tucker said. “People love him. I never heard anyone say anything bad about him.”
Sammy Queen gets a kick out of going to see his sons play collegiately.
“It’s pretty neat, a lot of fun,” he said. “We go to all of their home games and just about all the road games. To be able to sit up in the stands and watch them makes me proud.”
Next season, Tucker will be the lone Queen at Samford. Tyler, an exercise science major, plans to go to physical therapy school and either become a physical therapist or strength and conditioning coach.
Tucker, who’s studying history and education, is not looking forward to playing without his brother next year.
“I try not to think about it,” he said. “It will be different.”