4-star recruit Trevonte Rucker set to sign with Deion Sanders, Jackson State football Wednesday
The phrase is so simple, yet so perfect for Jackson State football commit Trevonte Rucker.
Don’t be afraid to be different.
Those were words that his mother and uncle stressed to him as a child. And, yes, kids have short attention spans, so if that hadn’t stuck with Rucker, it would have been normal.
But Rucker isn’t normal. He’s different. Especially on the football field, where the do-it-all Vanguard High (Florida) senior created advantages and mismatches for his team and problems for the opposition.
“(Rucker is) special,” an opposing high school coach in Florida said. “We had to worry about him on offense. We had to worry about him on special teams. (We had to worry about) whether he was going to line up at receiver or running back. He plays the entire game, both offense and defense.
“That guy is the dawg.”
For the season, Rucker finished with 455 receiving yards, 130 rushing yards, 91 passing yards, five offensive touchdowns, 307 combined return yards and two special teams scores.
Flip over to defense, the side of the ball Vanguard coach Edwin Farmer nominated Rucker for for all-county, and the safety added 30 tackles (two for-loss), two pass breakups and an interception, despite opposing coaches scheming as best they could to avoid him.
Harris joked that Rucker isn’t shy about constantly letting you know how good he is and what he plans to do to your team that night. That is very much reminiscent of the coach he will play for at Jackson State, NFL Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders, and has been a part of Rucker’s game since playing Pee Wee football in 2012.
“I love trash talking,” said Rucker, whose favorite player is Atlanta Falcons’ All-Pro receiver Julio Jones. “It boosts my energy.”
Farmer said one thing he will miss most about Rucker is that energy and how he shares it with teammates.
“We believe in hard work in practice, in the weight room … you push one another,” Farmer said. “He’s the kind of kid that is always working. He stays outside after practice to catch 100 extra balls.
“He’s one of the best leaders we’ve had in the program.”
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Farmer added that the leadership was most notable behind the scenes, saying that Rucker often spoke up in Senior Meetings on Mondays, before games, in huddles and during halftime.
One specific example stood out.
In a playoff game when they were juniors, defensive end Bryce Langston was supposed to stunt on a couple of plays. It didn’t go as planned, so Farmer pulled Langston for a few snaps. He asked Rucker to go speak to his teammate to keep Langston’s head up and into the game.
Rucker did so, and soon after, Langston, now an LSU signee, returned motivated and collected a big sack on the next series.
“Ruck got Bryce back there,” Farmer said.
That’s just another part of what makes Rucker different. As is his college choice.
A longtime Florida commitment, Rucker and the Gators had a split late last year (Farmer said he wasn’t sure if the player or program initiated it). LSU and Florida Atlantic made strong late pushes, but Rucker decided he wanted to make a phone call to Jackson State's newest coach, who Rucker knew through 7-on-7 camps.
Rucker liked Sanders’ pitch and also the thought of making a social statement by being a four-star recruit joining a historically Black university.
“With all that’s going on in the world (with social issues), I wanted to do this,” said Rucker, whose former Vanguard teammate, Kimo Clarke, is Jackson State’s starting tailback. “They kept it real on the phone when I talked to them.
“They trusted in me, and I trust them.”
So, he committed in December and is scheduled to sign his national letter of intent Wednesday, where he will become the second highest rated player ever to sign to Jackson State out of high school - according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
Sanders' son, Shedeur, who signed with the Tigers in December, is currently the highest rated recruit to sign with Jackson State out of high school.
But before his high school days are over, Rucker was named the 2020 Overall Football Player of the Year by the Star-Banner last week.
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