It's not a nickname for rising Pope John Paul II High School senior Jake Rucker, but it could be following the Knights star infielder's decision to commit to the University of Tennessee to continue his baseball career on The Hill. Rucker is the first commit for newly appointed head baseball coach, Tony Vitello.
Rucker cleans up the left side of the infield playing third and shortstop. His initial offers included Xavier, Middle Tennessee State, Austin Peay, Murray State, Belmont, and Northern Kentucky, but following his play on Team Tennessee, the senior really took off.
JPII head coach Chris Parker also coaches Rucker and several other teammates for Team Tennessee and during a recent tournament in Oklahoma, Parker said the Rucker did his part to show he could play with the nation's best players.
"Jake had a lot of really good offers coming into the tournament, but his play over these last few weeks has really shown the (Tennessee) coaching staff that he can play against top notch competition," Parker said. "I think the new coach coming in to Tennessee recognized that Jake is one of the most talented players in our state and he knew he had to have him."
For Rucker, the exposure is getting brighter and brighter by the day, but with a commitment out of the way, he can now work on improving his game for the college level.
"I need to just focus on my game and what I do," Rucker said. "I want to meet other committed guys, get to know them well and better prepare myself for the next level. SEC ball is the best in the nation and you better be ready when you get there."
Since Tim Corbin has taken over at Vanderbilt, most of the state's top talent has decided to enroll on West End, forgoing the opportunity to represent their state institution.
"I want to help turn Tennessee back to being good again," said Rucker. "I have a lot of faith in coach Vitello. Everywhere he has been he has helped bring programs back to being good again. He is one of the top recruiters in the country, and I'm just excited about being part of the group that brings Tennessee baseball back."
His junior year, Rucker batted .377 with an on base percentage of .454. He had 46 hits, 26 runs scored, 20 runs batted in and two home runs. Rucker was just named to the All Sumner County second team by Main Street Media of Tennessee.