At 6 feet 6, 255 pounds, junior offensive tackle Max Tuerk of Santa Margarita had to eat a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chicken and protein shakes to gain 40 pounds from his sophomore year, when he led his team in receptions with 17 as a tight end.
“I ate so much,” he said.
He went from practicing with the receivers to practicing with the linemen, which was a little bit of culture shock.
“The receivers are more into girls,” he said. “The linemen are more into eating.”
FOR THE RECORD:
High school sports: Eric Sondheimer’s column in the Nov. 26 Sports section about Santa Margarita High football player Max Tuerk’s transition from tight end to offensive tackle said that Tuerk was credited with catching a pass this season. He took in a lateral and the play was credited as a run. —
Welcome to life as a blocker. His uniform number went from 18 to 77. He doesn’t expect to score any more touchdowns, though the Eagles have a tackle-eligible play, and he ran four yards with a lateral this season just to give him a nice flashback to his former days.
Tuerk, however, might be on his way to becoming the best blocker in Southern California. Yes, he’s that good.
“He’s definitely a big-time player,” Anaheim Servite Coach Troy Thomas said.
Thomas knows something about moving a tight end to the offensive line. Troy Niklas of Servite made the transition this season, and he has scholarship offers from Stanford, Notre Dame, USC and UCLA.
Tuerk is headed on the same trajectory. He has mobility, growing strength and is just a puppy in terms of learning the tackle position. Wait until he really understands what to do.
“I really like it more than tight end,” he said. “I like getting down and dirty, fighting in the trenches.”
The switch came last spring after Coach Harry Welch was hired. Tuerk was already beginning to question his future as a receiver.
“I was going to receiver practices on Saturday,” he said. “I was like, ‘These guys are way faster than me.’”
Welch recognized Tuerk’s size and athleticism and turned him over to new line coach Marty Spalding, and the results figure to be talked about for years to come.
“Max has unlimited potential,” Welch said. “I’ve always felt the base of any good team is the offensive line, and I felt he would fit in just perfectly, which he did. He can move, he’s intense, he has a little bit of nastiness about him.”
Tuerk and Santa Margarita (9-2) will need to be at their best Friday night when the Eagles take on top-ranked Mission Viejo (11-0) in a Pac-5 Division quarterfinal at Saddleback College.
“It’s going to be awesome,” Tuerk said. “They’re a great team.”
He has accepted his new position with passion and commitment.
“I love tackle,” he said.
He put No. 77 on his letterman’s jacket.
“It’s a good tackle number,” he said.
His favorite task is participating in double teams so he can send someone to the turf.
“Every play, you have to go 100%,” he said. “You have to be real physical. You just hit, hit, hit.”
He doesn’t turn 17 until January, but he seems to have found the position that could allow him to play football for years to come.
“There’s always something to work on,” he said.
His new friends are treating him well.
“I still have some receiver friends,” he said, “but the linemen are a big family.”
And what’s No. 1 in every lineman’s heart?
“My linemen friends definitely love their food,” he said.