Capital University Football announces that it has made a significant addition to its coaching staff for the upcoming season. Effective immediately, former professional football player, two-sport All-American, and national champion Keith Rucker will join the Crusaders as an assistant coach. His primary responsibility will be to oversee the Crusaders’ defensive line.
Rucker, a 1992 graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University, completed his collegiate athletic career as a three-time All-American in football and seven-time All-American as a track & field athlete. Collectively he totaled 14 All-America honors, the most by a Battling Bishop student-athlete.
“Coach Rucker’s knowledge and experience will have an immediate impact on our football program,” said third-year head football coach, Chad Rogosheske. “As an NFL veteran, he brings extensive knowledge to our defense from a schematic and technique standpoint. He also has an excellent grasp of what it takes to be a successful student-athlete at this level. We’re excited to get him on the field with our players this fall.”
Following one of the most successful athletic runs in OWU history, Rucker signed to play in the National Football League (NFL). He debuted in the NFL with the Phoenix Cardinals (now Arizona Cardinals) in 1992 and played there for two seasons. Rucker spent the 1993 and 1994 seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals where he had his best years as a pro before spending time over the next three years with the Washington Redskins and Kansas City Chiefs.
In 2000, Rucker joined the coaching ranks with his alma mater and served as the Battling Bishops’ defensive line coach for one season. It would be the first of two coaching stints with Ohio Wesleyan as he returned in 2012 as defensive line coach and director of football operations. He held those roles for four years while also serving two different summer coaching internships with NFL teams. In 2014 he assisted New York Jets defensive line coach Karl Dunbar and the following year he returned to the Bengals to work with defensive line coach Jay Hayes.
Rucker also accumulated 12 years of coaching experience at the high school level throughout different Cincinnati-area schools. He spent one season as the special teams and defensive coordinator at Summit Country Day High School in 2016 and last year was the defensive line coach at LaSalle High School.
In addition, Rucker served as head coach at Mount Healthy High School in the Cincinnati area for three seasons. He has coached at Walnut Hills, Loveland, and Aiken high schools. Prior to rejoining OWU in 2012, Rucker was defensive line coach and special teams coordinator at Princeton High School in Cincinnati.
Rucker’s athletic career at Ohio Wesleyan may be one of the most comprehensive for a single athlete in school history, especially considering he was a Bishop for just three-and-one-half years after beginning his college experience at Eastern Michigan University. The first of 14 different All-America recognitions came in his first season with OWU on the Bishops’ track and field team when Rucker placed fifth nationally as a shot put thrower before even touching the gridiron.
His first football All-America honor came after his first season playing as a sophomore in 1989. As a junior, he garnered his second All-America accolade, not once but twice, from the Associated Press and Champion. He shared the team lead with 72 tackles, including 26 tackles for loss and nine sacks. He also scored two touchdowns on three carries as a running back in the Bishops’ goal-line offense. Ohio Wesleyan led all NCAA Division III teams in rushing defense and allowed only 66 points that season on the way to a 9-1 record and a top-20 national ranking.
Following his senior season, he was named the North Coast Athletic Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year en route to being named First Team All-America selection by Kodak, Associated Press and the Football Gazette, and was a third-team pick by Champion. Rucker capped off his career by becoming the first Division III player invited to compete in the Hula Bowl all-star game.
The football team’s 25-4-1 record during Rucker’s three seasons is the best of any three-year span in Bishops history.
Rucker was not just a standout on the football field but was also an All-American, conference and national champion as a thrower on the OWU track & field team. Four times in three years the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) named Rucker its Most Valuable Field Performer, and for good reason. He became the first male athlete to win any event all four years, doing so in the shot put. Rucker won conference championships in the shot put and discus on the outdoor circuit all four years, as well.
In his first semester on the OWU campus, he won the NCAC title and went on the place fifth at the Division III National Championships, becoming Ohio Wesleyan’s first indoor track & field All-American. He won his first national championship in the outdoor shot as a sophomore and added a second All-America honor that year in the discus. In Rucker’s junior year he won his first indoor national championship in the shot put and went on to sweep outdoor national titles in the shot and discus events in the spring. He rounded out his senior season as the national runner-up in the shot put during the indoor season.
In addition, Rucker also played basketball in his senior year while also managing football and track schedules plus his academics.
For all of his athletic achievements, Rucker was voted into the Ohio Wesleyan Athletic Hall of Fame as a member of the 2003 induction class.
Rucker earned his bachelor’s degree from Ohio Wesleyan in physical education. He also served on the board of directors for USA Football for five years. Rucker is the founder and president of Reach 4 The Sky Foundation, a non-profit foundation which provides 6 to 14-year-old boys and girls opportunities to build character through sport and cheer/dance.
He and his wife Cathy reside in Cincinnati and have five children: Breanna (24), Keith Jr. (22), Wil (18), Jordan 16), and Adam (11). Rucker earned his bachelor’s degree from Ohio Wesleyan in physical education. He also served on the board of directors for USA Football for five years. Rucker is the founder and president of Reach 4 The Sky Foundation, a non-profit foundation which provides 6-14 year-old boys and girls opportunities to build character through sport and cheer/dance.