Most football players are known for their immense size.
Standing at just five feet five inches tall and 160 pounds, Xaverian H.S., Bay Ridge, senior Tu-Shaun Plummer doesn’t exactly fit the mold of a typical football player.
However, what he lacks in size he makes up with his speed, intensity, playmaking abilities and leadership skills. It’s often difficult to tell he wears No. 22 since he’s always full of mud from giving 110% effort on every play.
Plummer, an East Flatbush native, began playing organized football at age eight for the Kings Bay Youth Organization in Sheepshead Bay. Now that he’s with Xaverian, he’s been playing on the same field for nine years.
For the Clippers, Plummer does a little bit of everything. He sets up in the backfield as a running back or in the slot as a wide receiver on offense, plays free safety on defense, returns punts and is even the holder on field goal/extra point attempts.
“It really doesn’t matter to me whatever position I’m playing,” said Plummer. “I know almost every position on the field, so it helps me guide the younger players.”
“He’s one of our more versatile athletes,” said Xaverian head coach Joe DeSiena, in his fourth year at the varsity helm. “During his three years as a starter on varsity, he’s done it all for us,”
This versatility and leadership led DeSiena to select Plummer as a team captain twice. For the 4-2 X-Men this season, Plummer is second on the team with 15 catches and has averaged over 15 yds. per catch. He also leads the defense with three interceptions.
“He’s actually thrown a touchdown pass this year, he’s run in for a touchdown, and he hasn’t caught one yet, but he’ll be catching some touchdowns toward the end of the year,” DeSiena said.
Plummer has not allowed his small frame to hinder his progress as a football player and leader. He’s been selected to the All-N.Y.C. team two years in a row and hopes for a third after this season.
He takes pride in his underdog mentality and likens himself to a few NFL players who compensate well for their size disadvantage. On offense, Plummer tries to emulate speedy Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith (five-nine), while on defense, he pictures himself as San Diego Chargers safety Bob Sanders (five-eight).
“Being small on offense puts me closer to the ground which gives me more leverage over a bigger defender,” said Plummer. “But being small at safety is great because most of the time, quarterbacks don’t see me when they’re looking for receivers.”
Second to None
While “Tu-Tu,” as he’s fondly known by his teammates and coaches, leads by his performance on the field, it’s the intangibles he brings off the field that have left an impact on his fellow Clippers.
“On the field, you’re not going to find a guy who’s more in tune with the scheme of the game,” said DeSiena. “His leadership on the field is second to none; his leadership in the locker room is second to none.”
With over 30 varsity starts under his belt, Plummer isn’t afraid to be a vocal leader at practice or in games to make sure everyone keeps up with their responsibilities. He’s the type of player that makes his teammates genuinely better.
“We’ve been playing together forever,” said senior wide receiver Sean Binckes, Plummer’s co-captain and teammate since their days at Kings Bay. “We’ve been on the same team since we were nine, and it’s been great. We have chemistry on the field, and he’s like my brother.”
Though the six-foot-four-inch Binckes towers over Plummer, he has benefitted from Plummer’s tight, pesky coverage in practice. These two were responsible for turning around a 0-10 team when they arrived in 2008 and have now transformed Xaverian into an N.Y.C. football powerhouse. The two, as well as the entire squad, have developed a lasting friendship.
“Once I stepped foot onto the field, I could see the family resemblance starting to happen,” Plummer said.
He also credits the Catholic education he’s received at Xaverian in preparing him for the next phase of his life. Athletes are supposed to set the example for the other students, and he’s done just that.
“The school has helped me to be a better person, not only on the football field, but it also helps me to be focused and respectful outside of football,” said Plummer.
With graduation looming, Plummer hopes to continue his football career in college, while majoring in sports management or accounting. Though he’s aware his size may hold him back, all he asks for is a chance to show a team what he can do.
“The bottom line is that somebody is going to strike gold when they get this guy in their program,” said DeSiena. “He’s going to be a Christmas present for somebody.”
However, DeSiena admits that losing “Tu-Tu” will be an emotional sendoff.
“Tu-Tu has been the face of this program since he came into our school,” DeSiena said. “I’m going to feel joy after seeing him progress through our program. But it’s also going to be a feeling of ‘what are we going to do without him?’”
Plummer simply wants to close out his high school career on a high note, after hopefully capturing a city championship.
“I just want to win and have fun,” Plummer said. “That’s it.”
Cathedral Prep Finding Success
The Cathedral Prep Seminary, Elmhurst, cross-country team competed in the Fordham Prep Developmental Sept. 30 and the All Hallows Invitational Oct. 7, both held at Van Cortlandt Park, the Bronx. Senior captain Conor Gallagher earned two first-place finishes after posting a time of 13:38 on the 2.5-mile course. With his performance, Gallagher moved into sixth place on Cathedral Prep’s top-20 all-time list.
The boys’ varsity soccer team also experienced recent success, earning its first win of the season Oct. 11 against Sacred Heart H.S., Yonkers, 4-0. Seniors Estefano Cruz and Mike Meyer each found the back of the net twice, while seniors Miguel Boodram and Christopher West and freshman Brendan Gallagher carried the team defensively.