Creating a New Image

Although his dad was a pair of national championships at Nebraska and had a respectable NFL career, New Hope (MN) junior Malik Rucker is looking for his best fit, a reason why he spent part of his weekend at Wisconsin.

MADISON - Sneaking linemen Beau Allen and Tyler Marz away from in-state Minnesota in the 2010 and 2011 recruiting cycles, respectively, were major coups for the University of Wisconsin in the border recruiting battle.

Allen has started 26 games for the Badgers in his first two seasons while Marz was named the team's offensive scout player of the year last season. But after Wisconsin failed to get a commitment from a Minnesota native in the 2012 recruiting class, the Badgers appear to have interest again over the border when it comes to New Hope (Minn.) junior athlete Malik Rucker, who visited Madison for the first time on Saturday's junior day.

"Everything was really nice down there," Rucker told Badger Nation. "I was impressed by it when I first got there. I talked to Coach Markuson, who is recruiting my area, and Coach Ash, who is my position coach. I also talked with the running back coach (Thomas Hammock) so everything went well. I was impressed by their facilities and what they are building. I like their strength and conditioning program, as well.

"It seems like a fun city, a nice campus and a great place to go to college."

Rucker has been a jack of all trades in his two years on the varsity level, having played safety, cornerback, receiver and being a returner. As a junior, Rucker registered 52 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and two interceptions, earning himself an all-conference selection. Rucker said Wisconsin is recruiting him as a cornerback, but said he could also play safety.

"Coach Ash and Coach Markuson both said they were impressed by film and like how I play," said Rucker. "Coach Strickland said the same thing, too. Coach Ash said he wanted to see me turn and run and play some man-to-man coverage, because a lot of my highlights are of me running downhill and hitting people. He said he would like to see me do that before they offer me."

Rucker has already secured his first offer from North Dakota, an offer that excited him simply because it gives him an opportunity to play football at a higher level.

"I like that they have interest in me and that they really want me," said Rucker. "It shows a lot to me that I can play Division 1."

As he makes more campus visits, Rucker's interest likely will increase because of the bloodlines that run in his family. His dad (Charles) and his brother (Xavier) played at Nebraska while his cousin (Alexander Robinson) played at Iowa State.

"I would definitely go to Nebraska, but I am trying to create my own path and my own image," said Rucker. "I just try to play hard, but I am told a lot that I hit like my dad and play like my dad did."

Rucker has been invited to junior days and plans to visit Minnesota and Iowa State before going on visits to Nebraska and Michigan State. Rucker said he plans to camp at Wisconsin and possibly visit the Badgers again in the spring.

"I'm very interested in Wisconsin," Rucker said. "It would be a big offer for me and I would really consider going there."

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