Transfer WR Corey Rucker wrapped up his official visit to USC Wednesday and left with a high impression of the Gamecocks, though he did not commit, at least not publicly. However, there are three other pieces of news that will affect Rucker’s decision.
First, he’s eliminated home-state Ole Miss from consideration due to a lack of communication with the coaches. Second, he has added an official visit to Virginia Tech for April 8th. And third, and most importantly from the Gamecocks’ standpoint, he has added a return visit to Columbia for the spring game April 16th so that he can show his mother the place. His father and sister were with him on this trip that ended with a stop by Dawn Staley’s house on the way to the airport.
“From Monday until I landed in Atlanta today (Wednesday), there was never a dull moment at all,” Rucker said. “I absolutely loved every single part of that visit. D. (Derrick) Moore, the player development guy, he rocked my world with his presentation, but on the way to the airport, I got to go by Dawn Staley’s house and meet her. That was the staple of my whole visit.”
Another important part of the visit for Rucker was the conversations he had with Shane Beamer and receivers coach Justin Stepp. They laid out for him what they have in the receivers room and what they would need from him.
“Definitely come in and be a guy they can move around from spot to spot, be flexible to play multiple positions,” Rucker said. “Of course, they can’t just tell a guy he’s going to be a starter, he’s definitely got to come in and earn that, but just come and be able to move around and take the receiver room to another level.”
Rucker got the full dose of exposure to the Beamer Culture at USC where the phrase “welcome home” has taken on a literal meaning with recruits.
“Coach Beamer’s whole thing is about being a family and being a player’s coach,” Rucker said. “He told me when he first came in, he asked the players what they wanted to see changed, and he made those changes. It was one of those things where he put his players’ ideas first and gave them what they wanted. I think that’s really rare at a lot of places because most coaches think they’ve been doing it long enough and they know what they need or what the program needs. For him to take the players’ input and actually implement it into the program, that was really big for me and I really liked that. I appreciate it because there’s a lot of times players don’t get to speak out how they feel about situations, or really get what the players should have. For him to do that was major.”
Tuesday was a big day for Rucker because he got the chance to watch offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield run his offense and watch new quarterback Spencer Rattler do his thing.
“It was insane,” Rucker said. “That was my first-time seeing Spencer Rattler in person, and the kid can spin it. I’m missing words right now trying to describe how well he threw the ball. It was really exciting to see him throw the ball around. Just to watch the offense, I’m pretty sure coach said the offense had to get like 16 explosive plays. I kid you not, the offense was hitting on all cylinders Tuesday, and it was really competitive, a super-high energy practice. Coach Satt has it figured out on the offensive side of things that I think it’s going to work really well with #7 (Rattler) at quarterback. Especially if he has some good wideouts who can get open, and he can throw the ball to.”
Rucker is going to continue with his recruitment for a little while longer. Thursday he is off to Utah State for an official visit. This will be big in the process because his former coach at Arkansas State, Blake Anderson, is the head coach of the Aggies.
“I have multiple coaches on that staff that I was a part of, and a quarterback on that team that I played with,” Rucker said. “I would say that’s a really strong connection. But I would say one of the downfalls to that, Utah is so far away. And man, it’s cold out there. I’m from Mississippi. I don’t like the cold. But just having that connection with that many people could be huge for me, but at the same time there’s so many other factors that play into it, I can’t just rely solely on that.”
Rucker also has visited Texas State where there’s another strong connection. His former quarterback at Arkansas State, and very close friend, Layne Hatcher, is now the quarterback at Texas State.
“Me and Layne Hatcher were super tight,” he said. “He would call me at like 11:30 PM and tell me to come to the indoor and throw routes with him. That’s why we had so much chemistry the way we did, just because of all the late nights we spent together. That’s my dog. Love him like a brother. But I’d say Texas State, honestly, I don’t know if I see myself staying inside the Sun Belt (Conference) just because I have opportunities to play in the best conference in the country, and I feel like it’s hard to pass that up. At the same time, it’s still a valid option just because I know I would go play with a quarterback that I got a lot of chemistry with.”
Rucker also has visited Auburn and Ole Miss. He has no direct connections to the Tigers, and of course, Ole Miss is the local school. But he has not gotten that favored son treatment from head coach Lane Kiffin and receivers coach Derrick Nix since his visit, and he’s moved on from the Rebels.
“This has been my favorite thing to talk about, the Ole Miss conversation,” Rucker said. “Everybody is thinking that Ruck’s going to go to Ole Miss because it’s in the home state. When coaches asked me what I was looking for after I entered the Portal, my number one thing was relationships. Ole Miss offered me, I’m pretty sure it was, I entered the Portal on a Tuesday and they offered me on that Wednesday. I went to Ole Miss (for a visit) because they were only like an hour and a half from Jonesboro. I met Coach Nix and Coach Kiffin and talked to them. That was the last time I heard from Coach Kiffin, and I think Coach Nix has probably texted me once since I left there. There was no communication, so I didn’t even build any relationships with any of them. So, Ole Miss was kind of off the table quick for me.”
The return visit to USC for the spring game will also be key as Rucker wants to give his mother the chance to experience what he experienced this week.
“I’m getting her to the spring game so she can see it,” Rucker said. “I hate she had to miss it (official visit) because she couldn’t take off work. I hate she had to miss that experience. I definitely want her to see that place, so I’ll take her back. I was going to make a decision in early May, but I see a decision coming a bit sooner than that.”
Rucker was a Freshman All-American last season at Arkansas State. In two seasons there he caught 75 passes for 1279 yards and 14 touchdowns.