By Maurice Patton
A pair of Spring Hill football seniors recently declared their collegiate destinations, as receiver Jaylan Rucker signed a scholarship Wednesday with Culver Stockton College after kicker Brett Hughes signed earlier with Lindsey Wilson College.
Rucker, a 6-6, 200-pound receiver, finished the Raiders’ 2020 season with 13 catches for 116 yards and one score – a 30-yarder in Spring Hill’s playoff loss at DeKalb County.
“I really felt more connected with them,” Rucker said regarding the staff at Culver Stockton, an NAIA school in Canton, Mo. “They like me on the outside, running good routes and using my speed.”
In signing with Culver Stockton, Rucker turned down scholarship offers from Defiance (Ohio) and McPherson (Kansas) colleges.
“He went for a visit at Carson-Newman. They invited him up, think he ran some routes,” Spring Hill coach Ben Martin said. “I think that’s what set the ball in motion.
“He’s always been a great kid. His aggressiveness came on, he got a little more confident, decided he could actually catch the ball and do something with it when he caught it.”
With his size and strength, particularly at the NAIA level, Martin expects Rucker to give the CSC coaching staff some options.
“He’s a strong kid – benching 285 (pounds), squatting 400, … You can’t coach 6-6,” Martin said. “He really showed some strides. I think what really helped him is, he was one of our better blockers on our team. He doesn’t mind getting physical. They think they can add about 40 pounds. If he’s able to hold weight and put his hand in the dirt, he could possibly be a tight end because he can block pretty well. He’s also a 4.65 (-second) 40 (-yard) guy, so he presents a lot of problems in the slot and he can run those routes. You get him matched up against a 5-10 cornerback, you kinda like that.”
Hughes handled punting, kicking and placement duties for the Raiders and will likely have an opportunity to do all three at Lindsey Wilson, an NAIA school in Columbia, Ky.
“They have a really good placekicker, but he’s a senior,” Martin said. “They think he has a shot to play early at punter. He’s probably stronger as a punter right now.
“He’s worked his tail off … It’s really paid off for him.”
Hughes also considered an offer from Culver Stockton College, as well as Kansas Wesleyan.
“Lindsey Wilson was the best out of the pack because they had the best football team and they offered me the most money to go there,” he said. “It’d be kinda ridiculous not to take it. I went on my visit and they showed me the rings they got for winning their conference. It’s pretty appealing.
“It’s close enough to home, but far enough from home.”