Martin Rucker - TE/DE - 6-5, 205, 4.65/40 - St. Joseph, MO. (Benton) - Don't let anyone ever tell you that it's easy being famous. Don't let anyone ever tell you that it's easy being related to someone even more-so. The pressure on yourself is something you take pride in, but sometimes, it pales to the expectations of others. Or, that's how it seems anyways. For Martin Rucker, an off-season has been one of enjoying getting ready for his last year, but one where he has had to find a way to deal with being as touted as he is and to add to the already mounting goals others have lofted upon him, being the brother to former All-American and current NFL player, Mike Rucker certainly hasn't helped to lighten the load.
Being the local standout is something. You take pride if what you've done. You can take a moment to enjoy the success you have had and basically revel not in the past, but what is possible for the future. The by-product of this success though, does come with a price. Fame. Not the national kind that has you on the cover of every magazine, but the kind that can be worse in it's effect, as it's at the local level, where the pressure is something you get to see face to face, every day. Since last year, Martin has seen that and though he has been fond of it to an extent, he's ready to earn what he gets. "I'm ready to live up to all this hype that's been going on around here." Rucker stated. "I'm just ready to get out on the field and bust some heads."
The pressure Rucker feels doesn't come out of luck and it's not genetic in it's context. It's performance. Yes, his brother Mike Rucker was an All-American rush end for Nebraska and yes, Mike Rucker is listed as a starting defensive end for the Carolina Panthers. All that being said, where the pressure comes from is taking those comparisons all the way down to the high school level and people actually saying, Martin is better. Not better for the future, but better at the high school level than his brother was. You think that's not pressure? You think that doesn't single you out with every little mistake you make? Just ask Martin. "That's one thing, every time I go out on the field, it makes you feel like you have to perform." Rucker stated. "That's what you should do, but if I drop a ball or make a mistake, it's a big deal. It's like when I do that, it's twice as bad as when anyone else does."
The pressure to compete or to perform, each player that does so at it's highest level. Regardless of their level of play in terms of high school, college or pro, that player puts immense pressure on themselves, more often than not, far exceeding any that anyone else could place upon them. It's the same for Martin as he strives to be the best, but this season is about doing his best and not what everyone else thinks his best should be.
Based on where Martin's brother (Mike) went to school, you could assume that Nebraska is breathing down his neck. Well, probably not so much as that, but they have reportedly offered Martin to play TE for the Huskers. Rucker has also received an offer from Missouri, a school which he has scheduled to visit, officially in December. Amongst the other teams out there vying for Rucker's services, Kansas, Utah State and Colorado State still exist in the picture. Martin states that as of right now, he is still planning on taking his visits and after that, making the decision on where he will be, pressure be darned.
What pressure? Isn't the pressure we have talked about enough? It would be if you already knew where you were going and it was following in the footsteps of your brother. Martin hasn't made that decision, or at least, at this time. He's keeping his options open, but does admit that people seem to have their own idea as to Martin's future, though their apparent certainty has not spilled over to him, much less convinced him of what he has to do. "It doesn't really matter to me right now."Rucker stated. "Nobody knows where I am going to go, it's just where they think I am going to go." Even Mike Rucker doesn't effect his younger brother's decision, though he sits eager to guide him, but not to what school Martin will choose. "He (Mike) wants me to get to the next level first of all." Martin stated. "Then, wherever I think I will be most happy, that's where I should be."
And, no doubt, that is right where Martin will be, happy, content, regardless of his location, it's clear that Martin is trying to get used to the array of pressures lofted upon him. He is determined however, not to let any one of them get him down or influence his overall mind-set. For Rucker and for any football player wanting to make a statement, their focus has to be single-minded, dedicated to the purpose of doing what they have to do, not only for their team, but themselves and it would appear that Martin is doing just that.