Rucker Takes the Reins

If ever a man and a job were made for one another, surely it is this pairing: Ken Rucker and the title of director of high school relations and player development for the Texas football program.

Ken Rucker met with the media Friday at Belmont Hall, displaying many of the qualities that make him – at least according to head coach Mack Brown – the perfect man for the newly-developed position. Texas players in general – and running backs in particular – reacted emotionally last fall when Rucker left to face prostate cancer and responded accordingly upon his return.

That sort of strength and ability to bond and earn trust with players will come in handy for Rucker in his new role, which Brown described as evolving.

"These kids have needs just like our own children have needs," Rucker said. "Kids want discipline in their life. I will be downstairs here to be close to them, and my door is always open."

Rucker will have a wide range of duties, including curfew enforcement, mentoring, communicating with high school coaches and monitoring the players' academic progress. Both he and Brown also made mention in the news conference the need for Rucker to be available to the Longhorns during the summer months. He'll dine at both lunch and dinner with the athletes.

Nine freshmen reported to Austin on Friday and, after a vacation with his wife, Rucker will be in a supervisory role for Texas during the summer months. Last summer was a long one for Brown, who dealt with multiple arrests of players; he is hopeful that Rucker's influence will be a great help in that regard.

"Being around during the summer is very vital," Rucker said. "It's very important to be around them at this time. Coach Brown just wants me to be Ken Rucker."

Brown said Rucker will not be a coach on the field, but will travel with the team. He will also continue to recruit off-campus until Brown hires his replacement at running backs coach, at which point Rucker will return to Austin. He'll still be able to communicate with recruits when they are on campus for various events.

"We hit a home run with Ken Rucker," Brown said. "He was very excited and already had a lot of great ideas. We talked at length about it and in the end, couldn't have found a better candidate. He has a great relationship with the high school coaches and will do a terrific job managing the events we have for them."

Rucker is 55, and the salary for his new position was not released.

Brown also mentioned an additional duty for Rucker Friday.

"Ken," Brown said jokingly (we think), "will be in charge of keeping the staff back (off the field)."

Joking aside, if Rucker merely keeps the young athletes off the front page, he will be worth whatever DeLoss Dodds pays him.

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