Honoring one of their own: Ken Rucker
As the Texas Longhorns and the Arizona State Sun Devils came together today at the Navy and Marine Corps Luncheon aboard the USS Ronald Regan, they knew one of the privileges of being there was to be able to honor those serving in the U.S. Armed Services.
However, the Longhorns were also going to get the opportunity to honor one of their own, as running backs coach Ken Rucker was presented with the Admiral's Trophy (Admiral U.S. Grant Sharp Trophy).
Rucker, who while recovering from prostate cancer, returned to the team just three weeks after his August surgery and has been a source of constant inspiration to the team, who voted Rucker to receive the honor.
"I was humbly flattered," Rucker said. "With all of the things that have been said and done, and particularly 16 weeks ago when I went through my prostate surgery, to be here now receiving this award, it's been a great ride."
The criteria of the award is, "A person who, in the opinion of the players, best exemplifies the spirit and unselfish dedication and teamwork which resulted in little recognition or acclaim for himself/herself, but contributed significantly to an outstanding 2007 season for his/her team."
"Ken epitomizes the determination and character of this team," said head coach Mack Brown. "In a season that saw us face a great deal of adversity, his spirit was an inspiration to all of the guys and a big factor in our success. Ken is everything the Admiral's Trophy stands for."
Rucker also received particular support from his running backs unit, who at his request followed him to the podium to receive the award.
"Coach Rucker is a good man and we all thought he deserved this award," said junior RB Jamaal Charles. "He's a coach that all of the guys love and enjoy playing for. We're so happy that he's back with us and healthy again. When he came back, it made a big difference for me."
Rucker is in his third season as running backs coach at Texas, as is the team's leading rusher, junior RB Jamaal Charles. Under Rucker's guidance, Charles was a semifinalist for the 2007 Doak Walker Award (nation's top RB) and earned first team All-Big 12 honors from The Associated Press and the league's coaches. He has carried the ball 231 times for 1,458 yards (No. 5 on UT's single-season list) and 16 TDs (T-No. 9 NCAA/No. 6 on UT's single-season list) this season.
"What a supporting cast -- running backs, and they had my back," Rucker laughed after the luncheon. "I needed them, because my knees were wobbly when I went up there, but it felt really good."
Just not nearly as good as it did to his players to see him receive it.