Free State tackle Hank Fuchs to play key role this fall, talks Indiana State commitment
photo by: Conner Becker/Journal-World
It’s easy for Free State head football coach Kevin Stewart to lean on a guy like Hank Fuchs.
The senior offensive tackle, who announced his verbal commitment to Indiana State last week, fits the leadership role like a glove. Fuchs, a starter since the tail end of his sophomore season, has a pretty confident feeling about all things Free State.
Fuchs’ father, Scott, is the current offensive line coach at KU, following head coach Lance Leipold over from Buffalo. It was two years ago that his family made the trip out to Free State to introduce themselves to Stewart and build that rapport right away.
When the Fuchs family arrived in Lawrence, Hank was moving for the seventh time.
Fuchs, an avid Buffalo Bills fan, said high school football in the northeast just doesn’t stack up to the level of play in Kansas. When receiving his first varsity uniform as a sophomore, Fuchs was handed No. 74 because Stewart told him “all the badasses wear No. 74.”
“It was kind of scary almost,” Fuchs said of his first practice. “Everyone’s family now and it went that way pretty fast, too … It’s more fun here. It’s taken way more seriously here than it is over there, which makes it a lot more fun on game days.”
On the heels of a 5-4 campaign in 2022, Stewart is looking to Fuchs to help raise the bar from a season that showed promise in the later weeks. Returning a good chunk of his offense, including starting quarterback Wesley Edison, Stewart said having someone like Hank down in the trenches is invaluable.
Watching Fuchs adjust and carve out his role has been a pleasure, Stewart said.
“(Fuchs) comes from a football family, and I think that can be tough on a young guy sometimes,” Stewart said. “It’s almost like a lot of pressure to live up to expectations. The only way you can really do that is by working hard and focusing on your craft, and (Fuchs) is one of the strongest guys on our team.”
The extra time in the weight room has seemingly paid off, as Fuchs will play his senior year with his exciting college commitment as the backdrop.
Fuchs’ college decision was heavily influenced by Indiana State head coach Curt Mallory, a close family friend and former next-door neighbor to the Fuchs family when Scott was an assistant coach at Wyoming from 2014 to 2018.
Mallory coached the secondary at Wyoming during the 2016 season before taking the head coaching job at Indiana State a year later.
“I’d already seen the culture (Mallory) had built there,” Fuchs said. “I’ve seen what kind of guy he is and I didn’t really need a second look, I just knew.”
Mallory extended a scholarship offer to Fuchs this summer and welcomed the Free State senior for a campus visit last weekend. Between the recruiting buzz and the KU preseason camp, Fuchs still finds time to talk football with his father.
When time allows, Fuchs and his two younger brothers, Jack and Gus, join their father out at the practice fields across from David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.
“That’s been great,” Scott Fuchs said after a preseason practice Monday. “I get them over for the night practices, they don’t really want to get up too much for the morning ones, but they come over and they watch O-line and (defense) and we will talk football, technique and O-line. I’m pretty excited for Hank, he picked a place.”
Those conversations have Hank Fuchs confident in what Free State’s ceiling could be in 2023.
“We have a lot of the pieces,” he said. “(The team) has been working really hard this summer, as hard as I’ve ever seen them work. And I think everyone is just excited for a league championship, state championship. They want to get that done this year.”
Free State closes out summer workouts this week and will begin team practices next Monday.