The similarities between Goodpasture sophomore Carson Rucker and his older brother, Jake, are striking.
They both played in the Little League World Series with the Goodlettsville All-Stars. They both play in the middle infield. They both stand about six feet tall.
And, as of this week, the Greenbrier natives are both Volunteers.
Carson announced his commitment to Tennessee on Wednesday, July 22. Jake will enter his third season with the baseball program this fall. The sons of Andrew and Jill Rucker are almost exactly five years apart.
“I’m really excited,” Carson said. “Other kids were committing early, and it just felt like it was time.
“I’ve seen how they developed (Jake) to be a good player. I really like (direction of the program). They know their stuff.”
The younger Rucker is just beginning his high school baseball experience. He attended White House Heritage Middle School and helped the Patriots capture their third consecutive Robertson County championship in 2019. Rucker opted to move to Goodpasture last school year.
The Cougars played seven games before the COVID-19 pandemic stopped their season in March. But thanks in part to his family’s connection to the program, Rucker was already on Tennessee’s radar for the 2023 recruiting class.
“That’s a tribute to him to have this opportunity so early in his high school development,” Goodpasture baseball coach Jim Carter said. “Carson blows you away off the field. He is obviously a talented baseball player…but what really strikes you is the type of young man that he is.
“He’s mature and wise beyond his years.”
Jake Rucker, who graduated from Pope John Paul II in 2018, plays shortstop for Tennessee. He hit .339 with three home runs and 13 RBI in 17 games before his season was also halted. The older Rucker has three years of eligibility remaining, but he could head to the professional ranks before then. Baseball America recently tabbed him as the 70th-best college prospect for the 2021 MLB Draft.
“He’s a big role model for me,” Carson said of his brother. “I really like what he’s doing right now.”
Meanwhile, Carson has spent his summer playing in exposure tournaments with the East Coast Sox 15U program. The 6-foot, 165-pound Rucker has worked to improve his hitting and was named to the 2020 Perfect Game 15U National Elite All-Tournament team last month in Hoover, Alabama.
“He has really improved physically,” Carter said. “He has grown some and gotten stronger. That physical improvement is allowing him to take his already high skillset and be a much stronger presence at the plate. He has developed gap-to-gap power.”
Carson still has three years left at Goodpasture before he heads to Knoxville. Carter said he believes the younger Rucker will only continue to get better, especially considering his family’s track record.
“Carson has a very strong work ethic,” Carter said. “He’s constantly looking for ways to get better. That’s a mark of the Rucker family.
“Carson and Jake are fine young men. They have some similarities baseball-wise, but what it comes down to is the way that they have been raised. They’ve got incredible parents.”