Watch: Vols DB Commit Rucker is the Prototype for Pruitt and Ansley Defensive System
To be an effective defensive back in Jeremy Pruitt and Derrick Ansley's defensive system, versatility is a key, and De'Shawn Rucker possesses that trait. He can play all over the defense, and his floor is high and ceiling even higher.
After committing to Tennessee in May, VR2 on SI's Brandon Martin wrote, The other part of Rucker’s game that makes him so coveted is that he can potentially play at corner as well at the next level. An argument can be made that Rucker impacts the game more at safety where he creates more turnovers and more directly contributes to run defense, but there is a case for playing him on the edge as well. Rucker's speed means that he can run with almost any receiver that lines up across from him. He can handle elite receivers in man coverage, something that allows defensive coordinators to build a game plan differently. Rucker is able to flip his hips quickly to turn and run with receivers, and he can change direction without surrendering position or losing a step. At 5’11” with long arms, Rucker is difficult for opposing quarterbacks to throw over. If they try, his technique to stay in position and phase with receivers means that his ball skills come into play. Rucker also does an excellent job of playing through receivers to knock balls down without interfering with them. He processes situations quickly, mindful of down and distance, and comes around receivers on film to knock balls down without drawing a flag. Combine those coverage skills with a solid, technically sound tackler, and you are left with the ingredients required for a shutdown corner.
Rucker has a chance to be a key piece of Tennessee's defensive early in 2021 because of this versatility. He has no bad traits, and he turns interceptions into instant offense. Under Jeremy Pruitt & Co. he has a chance to flourish.