Chris D. Rucker: An Adaptable Asset
Sept. 7, 2011
By Nick McWherter, MSU Athletic Communications Student Assistant
While some athletes may become frustrated with the constant struggles of hoping to contribute on the field, Chris D. Rucker has been grateful for every opportunity that he has been given.
As a fifth-year senior, Rucker has seen his fair share of adversity while playing for the Spartans. After switching to defensive back last season, Rucker is back at his natural position, wide receiver.
"I feel that whatever I can do to help the team that I will do that, not being a selfish player," Rucker said. "But I'm happy to be back on the wideout side. I prefer offense."
Rucker has cherished the opportunity to do anything and everything he can in order to contribute to the team. Last season, Rucker played a key role on the scout team and is viewed by many as a team leader because of his experience.
In his first year as wide receivers coach at MSU, Terrence Samuel has been impressed with Rucker's demeanor and his play.
"The biggest thing for him is he has confidence," Samuel said. "He had a little bit of adversity his first couple of years and he got his confidence back. He understands the offense, he knows what is expected, and he is playing within his self."
The knowledge that Rucker possesses allowed him to serve as a mentor for younger receivers during preseason camp this summer. He has been a coach on the field for Samuel and has developed a close relationship with him in a short amount of time.
"He's one of my better leaders in the wide receiver group," Samuel said. "I do trust him; I let him coach those guys. He is sincere, he wants those guys to succeed, and he cares about the program."
Trust within the program allowed last season's team to make plays week in and week out. Having a Big Ten Championship come to fruition had a special meaning for Rucker.
"It meant a lot," Rucker said. "Coming here with Coach D, being in the first class, when he first brought us in he told us he wanted to win championships. When we finally really got our chance we had a lot of camaraderie as a team last year, it just felt real good. Everybody was positive about every game. That Penn State game we knew that it was going to be a guaranteed win."
Team camaraderie is built through the grind of two-a-day practices in the summer and countless workouts in the offseason. In order to offset the stress of the daily grind, Rucker has taken on the role as team comedian. Last season he was presented the Doug Weaver Oil Can Award as team humorist.
"I was just taking another leadership role," Rucker said. "Keeping everybody calm and cool. I'm cool with everybody on the team, every position. I can go to a guy and just kick it with him on any day. So I was just using a little side attribute to keep the guys going."
Rucker also said that he likes to spread the jokes around to all of his teammates, regardless of position, but added that fellow receiver Bennie Fowler and himself go back and forth a lot.
"It definitely does help loosen up the team," Rucker said. "Football is a stressful sport, we have to be focused and be disciplined, and at times we just get too uptight. We just need to let loose, crack a couple jokes, and go out and do what we can do."
Rucker played a key role both on and off the field for the Big Ten Champion Spartans last season. As a versatile leader, he has been able to keep his teammates focused on the task at hand. Rucker cares deeply for the Michigan State program and has been able to share his experiences with younger teammates.
"The other day I gave my senior speech and I talked about gratitude - it's just about being thankful," Rucker said. "I feel that Coach D gave us a chance to come to Michigan State, and we have to play on the field and give back to the community, show our gratitude for how much they support us and how much we appreciate it."
When asked about what he wants to be able to give to fans in his last season as a Spartan, Rucker made one thing clear: he intends to make the fans proud.
"I hope to give them a Big Ten Championship, two years in a row," Rucker said. "I just hope that we can go out and play our best and play as a team. Not going away for anything that we practiced but just making everyone proud, making Spartan Nation proud."
This feature was originally published in the Sept. 2, 2011, edition of Michigan State Football Gameday Magazine. Photo by Matthew Mitchell.
at the official