From Nebraska to the NFL: Mike Rucker
By Jeff Griesch
All this summer on Huskers.com, we are featuring football players who have enjoyed outstanding professional careers by making the transition from Nebraska to the NFL. Mike Rucker is in the middle of an outstanding NFL career as a defensive end with the Carolina Panthers.
Before appearing in a Super Bowl with the Panthers, Rucker was a part of three national championship teams at Nebraska in 1994, 1995 and 1997. By the time his career ended at Nebraska, Rucker ranked among the top 10 players in Husker history in both sacks and tackles for loss. An amazing accomplishment considering the Missouri native was just a one-year starter on some of the most dominant college teams in history.
As primarily a reserve in 1997 behind two-time All-American and Lombardi Award winner Grant Wistrom and another future NFL player Chad Kelsay, Rucker managed 15 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks for NU's third national championship team in four years.
Although he played in the long shadow cast by Wistrom - a fellow Missourian - Rucker always found a way to make big plays and earn his own share of the spotlight. Rucker is entering his eighth season in the NFL in 2007, and continues to provide a major disruptive force for one of the best defenses in the league.
While Rucker was not an All-American or even a first-team All-Big 12 selection during his time at Nebraska, his talent was apparent week in and week out. On draft day following his senior season, Rucker's patience and team-first attitude was rewarded when he was chosen with the 38th overall pick in the second round of the 1999 NFL Draft by Carolina.
Rucker and former Husker teammate Mike Minter have been cornerstones of building the Panthers into one of the NFL's top franchises. They have also teamed up off the field to give back to the community through their Ruckus House community learning centers and scholarship programs.
Next week on Huskers.com, we will be featuring New England Patriots offensive lineman Russ Hochstein, one of the members of Nebraska's great O-Line legacy and a Nebraska native.