It would be nice if this guy could become the #4 this season: Hine, Santonio, Sweed and Rucker. Imagine him in the red zone with Sweed, Miller and Spaeth--Land of the Giants.
Posted Jul 16, 2008
Ben Roethlisberger made headlines in January when he expressed an interest in the Pittsburgh Steelers acquiring a taller wide receiver.
And when the Steelers selected 6-4 Limas Sweed in the second round of the draft, many felt the team – and Roethlisberger - had their man.
But Sweed isn’t even the tallest rookie wide receiver on the team’s roster heading into training camp. That honor belongs to Micah Rucker, a towering 6-6, 221-pound undrafted rookie.
Rucker, an Eastern Illinois product, used that impressive size to help him catch 108 passes for 1,819 yards and 21 touchdowns. That’s not bad for two seasons of work.
Rucker initially attended the University of Minnesota when he left Estero High School in Estero, Florida. But after red-shirting as a freshman and playing sparingly in the next two seasons – he had four catches for 76 yards in 12 games as a red-shirt sophomore – Rucker transferred to Eastern Illinois, an NCAA Division I-AA school.
“Going from Minnesota to Eastern Illinois was a big change,” said Rucker. “I went from a Big Ten school to a D-IAA school, but it was the right situation for me. I had a fun time there, met a lot of good people and learned a lot. But I think the switch over really put me in the position I am today.”
But couldn’t Rucker had gotten a shot in the NFL easier at a Big Ten school?
“It was really a run-oriented offense,” he said with a smile. “As you know, we had a couple of good running backs there. It was just an opportunity to go somewhere else and make plays.”
He did plenty of that, despite some personal tragedy.
Rucker’s girlfriend, Rebecca Fissehastion Yacob, was killed in an accident with a drunken driver Jan. 28, 2007. The two met while Rucker was at Minnesota and stayed together for more than two years despite the transfer.
“We were best friends,” Rucker told Dennews.com. “She was a very beautiful girl.”
So Rucker understands a little better than many people about why people have to make the most of their opportunities. And that’s what he plans on doing with the Steelers even though he was disappointed he wasn’t drafted.
“I ran a 4.47,” Rucker said. “My pro day went really well. I did 20 bench presses and had a 39-inch vertical leap. I thought I was going to get drafted after my pro day, but, as you can see, anything is possible.
“But after a while, I went into the whole situation looking at it like I wasn’t going to get drafted, just to look at the worst situation. My agent told me that some teams were liking me, but I may not get drafted. But as the later rounds came and I was hoping. At the same time, I’ve gotten an opportunity and that’s all I wanted. Now, I’ve got to do all I can to take advantage of it.”
That was something he did quite well in college, even against some top competition, including cornerback Dominque Rodger-Cromartie, a first-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals.
“Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is a pretty good player and I had a lot of fun playing against him,” said Rucker, who caught three passes for 50 yards and two touchdowns against Tennessee State and Rodgers-Cromartie last season. “I thought I did OK. They kind of shadowed their defense toward me a little bit. He only covered me one-on-one a few times.”
And what did Rucker think of Rodgers-Cromartie?
“Going against him at Eastern, he was good, but I didn’t think he was first round,” Rucker said. “It was actually later that spring, everybody was talking about him being a top-10 pick. I said, ‘What?’ ”
But it just shows that the NFL doesn’t care where you come from if you can play the game.
“There’s guys here who were undrafted rookie free agents who are Pro Bowlers,” said Rucker of the Steelers. “As long as you can come in and learn, I think you give yourself a chance. Everybody says just not to make the same mistake twice. That’s kind of a hard thing not to do, there’s really a lot being th