That realization came sooner than many thought it would, as Eastern Michigan extended the first scholarship offer to the six-foot-two, 212-pound linebacker recently.
"Ethan was really excited," head coach Zebb Schroeder said, "The Eastern offer was exciting because it was the first and it made things a reality for Ethan. Coach Wilson from Eastern Michigan was actually here seeing us about another kid (Collin Wittig) and I had him watch a bit of Ethan's film and it didn't take him long to realize what a player he was. He might try to go with Collin up to one of their games in October."
Another Mid-American Conference program is also close to offering, and in fact, were one of the first schools to let Schroeder know he had a Division-1 player in Tucky.
"I think this summer it set in that this was on the horizon. He went to Toledo's one-day camp this summer and Coach Campbell pulled him aside to say that they would likely be offering him when they start recruiting 2016 kids."
Tucky has great athleticism, evidenced by his track times, but has also put in the work in the weight room to capitalize on his potential.
"The first thing that jumps out physically is his combination of size and speed. He's a bit over six-foot-two, he's 215 pounds and he can really run. He's a legit 4.5. In fact, last spring, as a freshman, he ran an 11.0 in the 100 and won the county track meet. He's very explosive, already cleaning around 265 pounds. The next thing is his work ethic. He has that rare DNA that makes him say 'if I didn't quite get my fifth rep on the squat, I'm still going to try number six and heck, I might try number seven.' He pushes himself like very few players I have ever been around and that is why his physical growth has taken off so quickly."
Beyond that, Tucky is also a success off the field.
"The most positive aspect about Ethan might be the fact that he is the consummate student-athlete. He has good grades. The team comes first. He is a phenomenal character kid and his worth ethic is off the charts. He also loves football and studies the game year 'round."
And other than the first offer, there are plenty of other schools interested.
"He visited Ohio State this summer for their underclassmen one-day, he won the linebacker smokehouse there. He is scheduled to visit Illinois at the end of October for their game with Wisconsin. He is also scheduled to visit Tennessee in November for their game with Auburn."