Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Frost Bite: Interview with Frostee Rucker

(FortCollins-CO) The Nugg Doctor has recently had the chance to sit down with former University of Southern California defensive end Frostee Rucker for an interview about his days at USC, training for the NFL draft, and where he thinks he fits in at the NFL level.

Frostee Rucker has been a starter on USC’s football team for the last three years. He was part of two national championship teams, three Pac-10 championships, was honored on the All Pac-10 defensive first team in 2005, and is now ready to take his high octane game to Sundays in the NFL. The only question left to answer on Rucker’s resume is what team is going to draft this explosive defensive prospect.

Sitting down with Rucker, we had a chance to reflect on the ending of one chapter in his career and the beginning of another. I asked Frostee what he has been doing to get ready for the upcoming NFL combine since the unfortunate loss to Texas for the national championship. With a short laugh, Rucker replied with, “As soon as the game was over I took a little time off to relax and get my mind right. Soon following that game I went to San Antonio to participate in the East vs. West Shrine Game.” He then stated, “Since then I have been training everyday at USC because I think they have the best training staff.” By the looks of him, he didn’t take too much time getting back to the weight room. He looks as if he was chiseled out of a solid piece of marble.

When asked about playing and practicing against some former first and second round selections (Udeze, Cody, Palmer, and Patterson) over the years Frostee was very animate. He said, “I have been blessed to play in the coliseum the last three years. The last two years we have had record breaking sell out games. Those guys right there (referring to Udeze, Cody, Palmer, and Patterson) say enough. That’s three first-rounders and a second round selection, but the secret is the coaching that we all have been provided.”

According to all the speculating NFL draft prospect websites. Frostee is the epitome of a “tweener.” That refers to guys whom are sometimes too small or too big to play at certain position or another. Some sites speculate that Frostee is too small to play at defensive end and too big to play at linebacker. When asked about this label Frostee had these comparisons. “I think I can do both. If you actually see me, I’m 6'4 265 and I can run. I consider my style similar to Joey Porter, the ex-Colorado State Ram and the current monster on the Steelers defense.” Interesting that Rucker would compare himself to a Colorado State University Ram. Rucker himself was a Ram before transferring to the Trojans. He then added, “We both have a unique style that comes with our game.” Then he added a defensive linemen comparison since we were talking about his in-between stature. Simply stated, Rucker said, “D-linemen, no question about it. I’m like the freak (referring to Jevon Kearse).” Adding this through the laughter, “Those two guys always play at high speeds.”

Rucker was a critical component in the Trojan’s five to ten yard pass defense this past year. I asked him about the hybrid role he assumed and he had a surprising answer. Rucker stated, “I think with coach opening up the defense and allowing me to play like that really helped us out. I have been playing linebacker since I was seven years old and it feels natural.” And what a help he was, recording the second best team tackle total of 56 (35 solo and 21 assisted), first in tackles for a loss (14 for -61 yards), second in sacks (6.5 for -45 yards), forcing two fumbles, recovering one, and recording an interception. Rucker was a very busy man.

I had to ask him how such a friendly and funny guy could become such an animal on the field and if he thought the duality gave him an edge over other players. We laughed and Frostee had this in reply, “I think it’s just my nature. I take football very serious. In fact, it’s life to me. People say they love it, but I don’t believe they do. This is coming from a kid that had to beg my parents to let me play.”

Finally on a serious note, I asked Rucker to give me an open-ended statement to NFL teams around the league. Frostee boldly had this to say. “I’m a hard working football player. I play with passion and respect for all aspects of the game.” His rap-sheet, or should I say sack-sheet, says enough. Despite losing to Texas this past January, Rucker hasn’t let anyone down yet, and if NFL scouts are keeping tabs, I doubt that he will be anytime soon.


PizzaDaHutt said...

I liked the piece on Rucker. Any relation to Mike Rucker the D-end for the panthers?
Why didn't you ask him the million dollar question (though i bet i know the answer) "Who's better Vince Young or Matt Lienart"?

Nugg Doctor said...

In reply to Pizzadahut:

There is no relation to defensive end Mike Rucker on the Carolina Panthers. I didn't ask him to compare a friend and former teammate to a rival because it is not pertinent to the story of Frostee taking his high-speed defensive skills to the NFL.

Anonymous said...

Who do you think is better pizza?

PizzaDaHutt said...

I think Lienarts arm is too weak for the nfl. he better turn into tom brady or he's in for a rude awakening.

Ninam4840 said...

The piece on Frosty Rucker is very intense. I would have to say he is one of my favorite players on one of my favorite teams. He inspires me when it comes to a lot of aspects in my life. I think you did a great job turning a highlight of Frosty Rucker in to a great article that is well posted and thought out.