Fourth in a series of 11 episodes. Coming tomorrow: offensive linemen.
When a young Jeremy Ruckert was stalking Jets games and poring over their roster, there weren’t a ton of future Jeremy Ruckerts. Defensive lineman Mike Devito was born in New York. Offensive tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson was brought up in Freeport.
But while the wide-eyed Jets fan, his two brothers and their father attended many games at the Giants’ old stadium, there weren’t many people to root for who were shaped by the city.
If the Jets or Giants try their luck on tight end Long Island and Ohio State, that could change for Jeremy Ruckerts tomorrow.
“Everyone in my family is from Long Island — been here my whole life,” the Lindenhurst High School graduate said. “Be proud never to transfer to high school, to transfer anywhere. Stayed in the same town, same town. I take it everywhere I go. I’m proud of it.
He’s a good target to get a lot of attention locally, and he hopes he’s a good target for Zach Wilson or Daniel Jones.
Ruckert will be one of the top tight ends on the board in the 2022 NFL Draft, an enticing talent with great hands but not an overwhelming amount of college production largely because of the Buckeyes’ overwhelming amount of offensive talent around. from him.
Ruckert was an all-around star at Lindenhurst, where he became the nation’s top rookie and, in 2017, lifted the Bulldogs to their first Long Island Football Championship. Ruckert was mostly a passer rather than a blocker. He also started at linebacker and once blocked a punt to help Lindenhurst win a game.
After winning New York State’s Gatorade Player of the Year in 2017, he landed at Ohio State, which was packed at receiver and wanted the 6-foot-5 specimen and 250 pounds blocks more. He was thrown against the likes of Joey Bosa in freshman practices.
He’s grown in the role, taking on the nation’s best in practice and in title matches, with some spectacular plays at times: his one-handed hold in midfield against Alabama in the 2021 National Championship was memorable if not unique. He’s gotten into the habit of one-handed catching, and while explosiveness isn’t a strength, his hands clearly are. He broke out during his senior season at Columbus, where he caught 26 passes for 309 yards and three touchdowns last season.
The Jets and Giants could suit Ruckert, who ESPN recently mocked for landing in the fourth round. If either team stays home for its tight future, Long Island will rejoice.
“Everyone would be super excited,” said Ruckert, whose favorite players growing up included Darrelle Revis and Rob Gronkowski. “Being from this area, everyone is proud of these teams…and they would feel even more like they had a reason to go to the games.”
If he lands with the Jets, no one would be more excited than his dad. In January, Bill Ruckert, who now hauls heavy equipment on a tractor-trailer, saw former Jet and now ESPN analyst Damien Woody tweet that his son would be a ‘helluva fit’ for the Jets. . Bill responded with a photo of young Jeremy sporting Jets face paint.
“He just wants the best fit for me,” Jeremy said. “Make sure I’m in a good situation with good people around me, and he’s a fan of me first.”
Ruckert has met nearly every team, including the Giants and Jets, and toured the latter’s facilities. He is also a huge fan of Jets coach Ron Middleton, who coached him during Senior Bowl week. The two spoke when he visited the Jets and at the combine too.
“I just think the way I approach the game with integrity, with a sense of energy, I feel like it had the same vibe,” Ruckert said by phone Saturday. “You can tell how much he loves what he does. He’s just someone you want to play for.
At this point, the Jets should know him well, which is important for a player who finished with just 54 collegiate catches but didn’t make the combine due to plantar fasciitis.
There is a bit of an unknown because of its use at Ohio State. Coming out of high school, colleges knew he could catch. Coming out of college, NFL teams know he can block. Can he be a next level difference maker?
For some New York kids, absolutely.
“That’s what I’m always proud of, being that [New York] dude,” Ruckert said, “because I didn’t have a lot growing up that I could really look up to.”
New York Post