December 16, 2010

Rucker expects to be challenged by Bama's Jones

EAST LANSING - Michigan State's secondary was considered the weakest link on defense before the season began, but the once maligned group has come through time and again in 2010 and has played a central role in a magical 11-1 season.

All four Spartan starters finished the season among the Big Ten leaders in passes defended with 32 pass break-ups as a group and 12 interceptions. And each of Michigan State's four starting defensive backs were voted second-team all-Big Ten.

"I think it shows we are improving," said fourth-year starter Chris L. Rucker, who recorded 61 tackles, with seven pass break-ups, two interceptions, and a pair of forced fumbles during the 10 games he played this season. "Coach (Harlon) Barnett and coach (Pat) Narduzzi have been working us all season. And the seniors ourselves, we all came together and said that we have to get better because we felt that if we had a good season, it would make our defense a lot better and make our team a lot better."

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Rucker has as much experience as any player on the Michigan State defense. And during his time at Michigan State, Rucker has been the Spartan corner that is typically tasked with slowing down the opposing team's top receiver.

Rucker has gone toe-to-toe with some of the nation's top receivers during his career. The Senior from Ohio has matched skills with Notre Dame's Michael Floyd and before that Golden Tate. Rucker has also acquitted himself well two years ago in the Capital One Bowl against the Georgia tandem of Mohamed Massaquoi (Cleveland Browns) and A.J. Green.

When Rucker takes the field against Alabama on New Year's Day, the Spartan senior will be asked to cover one of college football's very best in [db]Julio Jones. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound junior is coming off a 10 catch, 199-yard outing against Auburn. The pre-season All-American has 75 receptions on the year for 1,084 yards and seven touchdowns.

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