Malik Rucker visited Iowa City on a Friday afternoon in June and let the world know on his Twitter account that evening he committed to play football at Iowa.
The 6-foot, 175-pounder had 17 offers, including Texas Tech, Arizona State, Minnesota and North Carolina State. At Cooper (New Hope, Minn.) High School as a junior, Rucker had 83 total tackles (53 solo), 10 tackles for loss and two interceptions. Kansas, Illinois and Iowa State rounded out Rucker’s top seven.
Last fall, Rucker played a number of positions for Cooper in their first two games. Cooper (New Hope, Minn.) lost a tough first game with a 49-42 defeat to Benilde-St. Margaret's. Rucker played multiple positions and had a 68 yard reception for a TD, 9 tackles, and 2 forced fumbles. Cooper rebounded with a 60-28 victory over North Branch. Rucker had 1 kick return and 4 tackles.
According to HawkeyeReport.com, Rucker decided on the Hawkeyes early that week and let assistant coaches Eric Johnson and Darrell Wilson know, but kept it a secret from head coach Kirk Ferentz. Rucker told HR.com that Ferentz made Iowa’s scholarship offer in a face-to-face manner, so he wanted to tell him personally.
Rucker is rated a three-star recruit by Rivals.com, which also has him as the No. 26 safety in the country and No. 2 player in the state of Minnesota.
"I think I'm coming in at corner, but I could play safety too," Rucker said. "I've got the range to play both."
According to HawkeyeReport.com, Iowa coaches told Rucker they believe he could play safety or corner, but that they will start him at corner and see where it goes. Rucker told ESPN.com that he loved his relationship built with Iowa coaches, especially Johnson (Iowa’s recruiting coordinator), but wanted to meet Wilson (his position coach) before making the commitment.
When news hit yesterday that Wilson departed for Rutgers, Rucker tweeted, "Damn, coach Wilson left." Not long after, he tweeted, "It's all good, I trust coach Ferentz. Go Hawks."
Scouting snippet (from ESPN.com)
The Positive: Rucker is a tall, fluid athlete with good range and ball skills. Has the size, hands and athletic pass receiving skills to get recruited at receiver but feel he will most likely settle in at safety in college. Tall, high-cut and while slight some in stature he is tightly-wound and quick-twitched giving him deceptive strength and pop on contact. Plays the position fast and physical; bigger and faster than his measurables suggest. Needs to continue improving his reads and reactions but has a quick first step once the ball is located and transitions out of his pedal with burst.
The Pause: Closes with good speed but does appear quicker than fast. . . . Has a narrow base but runs through his tackles and will make the big collision. However, he will need added size to continue providing productive box support at the next level. In coverage, he is a bit straight-lined, shows some rigidness in his turns and we question his man-to-man skills if positioned down over quicker slots. While a great ball-hawk he needs to polish up technique, particularly in coverage.
What Iowa said . . .
Recruiting coordinator Eric Johnson: “We joke with him every time we see him on how he's still standing after [some of the hits he makes]. I think 170 pounds is generous for him. He's more like 160 pounds. The way he has no regard for his body and just throws that thing around, the physicality he plays with . . . He loves the game. He's a student of the game. We're excited to see what he could do."
What Rivals.com said . . .
Midwest recruiting coordinator Josh Helmholdt: “I think he could be the one guy in this class that we're talking about the most in the next three, four, five years down the road. Him and Jon Wisnieski. I think those two guys have a chance to be really stand out talents, all-Big Ten players down the road. If I had to pick two guys, I think they would be the two guys I would pick as the most likely to be all-Big Ten talents down the road. . . . Rucker is an extremely athletic safety. He flies around the football field. He has great range, great ball skills. He's a kid who quarterbacks have to account for on every single play. I like him as being an impact guy for Iowa down the road."
What ESPN.com said . . .
Midwest regional recruiting coordinator Jared Shanker: "I think Malik Rucker is someone who could have a pretty big impact. He's a big hitter. Other schools tried to jump in on him late [Minnesota, Texas Tech] and Iowa did a good job keeping him on board. He's someone who's going to come up and lay the wood. He's athletic and can play pass coverage as well. I think Malik might be somebody when you look back on this class, he could be a three-year contributor, a two- or three-year starter."
What I think (FWIW, obviously) . . .
Is Rucker a corner or a safety? Is he a safety in a corner's body? The questions are overrun by the statements on Rucker's range and his abandon. Does his abandon put him at safety? Does he pair up as the free safety to Solomon Warfield's strong safety? I think that's it. It might take some time to build the body (160 pounds?!?!?), but all systems go as a potential safety with coverage skills and a sure tackler.