Former SEC Commit Rucker on Deion Sanders, Jackson State: 'We're Gonna Make History'

John Garcia, Jr.

MIAMI -- Florida's best fell to Georgia's in the 2021 Florida vs. Georgia All-Star Game Sunday. It was the return of the classic border rivalry showcasing several seniors already signed and/or verbally committed to top programs throughout the FBS and lower levels. 

There's little doubt the recruit outside of the FBS level with the most skill and notoriety was Ocala (Fla.) Vanguard wide receiver Trevonte Rucker, who is committed to Jackson State. 

After picking the local Florida Gators on two different occasions during the recruiting process, he is now expecting to sign with first year college coach Deion Sanders and the Tigers on February 3. 

"Deion just kept it real on the phone," Rucker told SI All-American. "My mama loved the decision, she was behind me, 10 toes. I'm getting coached by the best, to be the best, and go to the league. It's a blessing. 

"I'm trying to start the trend for D-I athletes from around the world, you can go to the league from anywhere. Because I'm gonna go to the league from JSU."

Rucker, listed at 6-foot-1, 167 pounds by the All-Star staff, says he's working to add to a Tiger recruiting class that has already made national news under Sanders with prep prospects and transfers alike. 

One All-Star on the Georgia roster considering JSU happens to be a fellow Dan Mullen verbal commitment in offensive lineman George Jackson. 

"Me and him been talking, I'm trying to get him over there," Rucker said. "I think if we do that we would put up some numbers and change the program around. 

"I'm still recruiting (for JSU) and I'm gonna get some more Floridians before February 3, too."

Like many navigating the college football recruiting process during the COVID-19 pandemic, the senior was unable to make campus visits before making the decision to flip the pledge from Florida to Jackson State on January 5.

Still, the message from Sanders, and a former Vanguard teammate in Tiger running back Kymani Clarke, helped line up the decision despite a lack of familiarity with the campus, conference and more.   

"We were teammates a couple years back but we talk on the phone, chopping it up," he said. "He tells me they're on the field working at 6 in the morning, getting it in. He says everything is different and the whole team's mindset has changed from last year to this year. New stuff is being built and everything."

Change is a constant theme surrounding perception and trajectory of Sanders heading into the spring season of 2021. The coach has been vocal about the need for resources at the HBCU level, eventually translating to more on-field success, recruiting success and more.  

Recruits like Rucker won't hurt and he understands the pressure on his shoulders the day he sets foot on campus relative to his reputation at the high school level. 

He says he changed the recruiting game.

"I think I changed it by being one of the first ones to flip from a Power 5 to an HBCU," he said. "It's a blessing in disguise, in my eyes, I'm thankful. I'm just ready to be there and make history, that's all Deion says. 

"We're gonna make history and change the program around."

The traditional signing period begins two weeks from Wednesday and other programs do remain in contact with one of Florida's best.

"FAU is still trying to pull but I'm focusing on JSU right now," Rucker said. "I'm going to try to catch a game this spring and take a visit. Now there's some other HBCU's looking at me.  

"Southern heard I was going HBCU so they're blowing up my phone now." 

Commitments are non-binding until a National Letter of Intent is signed. February 3 is the first day of the signing period.  

Trevonte Rucker
John Garcia, Jr.

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