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Nolan Rucci commits to Wisconsin

Written by: on Tuesday, September 8th, 2020. Follow Joseph Santoliquito on Twitter.


Any direction Nolan Rucci decided, he figured, he was a winner. The 6-foot-8, 295-pound senior Warwick offensive tackle was looking at Wisconsin, Clemson, Penn State, Michigan and Notre Dame as his final five college destinations.

But it really came down to Wisconsin, where his older brother, Hayden, is a redshirt freshman tight end, or Penn State, where his father, Todd, starred for the Nittany Lions, and his mother, Stacy (Gilburg) Rucci, was an All-American field hockey player.

In the end, Nolan decided on Wisconsin.

“Hayden being at Wisconsin was a pretty big factor,” said Nolan, who still may be growing. “We had an opportunity to block together at the high school level, and there’s not too many kids who get to do it again at a D-I football school.

“I’m excited to have that opportunity once again. Hayden being there was huge. It’s fair to say Wisconsin and Penn State were the final two.”

Nolan will be joining a loaded Badgers’ 2021 class that already includes 6-foot-6, 260-pound J.P. Benzschawel and 6-7, 270-pound tackle Riley Mahlman.

With all of that talent coming in, still, Nolan decided on Wisconsin, where it will be harder for him to see the field early.

“Both schools (Penn State and Wisconsin) have so much to offer with football, academics and campus life,” Nolan said. “One of the cool things at Wisconsin, which some of the kids may shy away from, is the competition. That will honestly help me out in the long run.

“The old adage of iron sharpens iron is here. I’m super excited to go up against these top offensive lineman and improve.”

The 5-star tackle is considered among the top 5 recruits in the nation. The get was a huge boost to the Badgers, while it dealt Penn State a huge gut shot.

“I’ve been thankful to every college along the way, it’s been an amazing process from the beginning to the end, and I want to say thank you to every school that recruited me, but there is only going to be one school in the end,” said Rucci, whose father Todd was a seven-year NFL veteran with the New England Patriots. “Watching my older brother get recruited gave me a lot of insight.

“On Wisconsin. I love the way coach Ruddy (Badgers’ offensive line coach Joe Rudolph) coaches his guys. Their development is obvious. You can see the guys they’re putting in the NFL in recent years, the guys that they’re going to be putting in the NFL. I’m excited to be a part of that process and make my mark.

“I can’t wait to be a Badger!”

Rucci could be a potential first-round pick. What makes him unique is his great footwork and coordination for someone his size.

“Being around my father and having him go through that process and play in the NFL, it’s something I learned from,” Nolan said. “I’ve watched some of my dad’s old highlights when he played in the Super Bowl.”

There’s a really good chance Nolan will one day follow in his father’s footsteps. He’s already made the first step in following in his brother’s to Wisconsin.

Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been covering high school football since 1992 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on twitter @JSantoliquito. Follow on Twitter @EPAFootball.

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