Rucker Rejoins Ohio Wesleyan Coaching Staff

Adding expertise and experience from an NFL pro

Keith Rucker ’92 (Photo courtesy of OWU’s Office of Marketing and Communication)

Keith Rucker, a seven-year veteran of the National Football League and a 1992 Ohio Wesleyan University graduate, will return to his alma mater to coach the defensive line, it was announced by head football coach Tom Watts.

“I think Keith is a great asset to the football program and the university,” Watts said. “He’s one of the best student-athletes ever to come out of Ohio Wesleyan. As an NFL veteran, he’s someone that all of our student-athletes can look up to, and he’ll be a great recruiter as well.”

This will be Rucker’s second stint on the Battling Bishop coaching staff.  He coached the Ohio Wesleyan defensive line during the 2000 season.

Since then, Rucker served as head coach at Mount Healthy High School in the Cincinnati area for three seasons. He also coached at Walnut Hills, Loveland, and Aiken High Schools, and most recently was defensive line coach and special teams coordinator at Princeton High School in Cincinnati.

“I’ve been trying to come back here for years,” Rucker said. “I always wanted to come back, and thought if there was a perfect opportunity for me to come back and coach (in college), it would be at Ohio Wesleyan. I knew that just because I played in the NFL, it didn’t give me a right to a collegiate coaching position.”

Rucker spent portions of seven seasons in the NFL, playing for the Arizona Cardinals, Cincinnati Bengals, Washington Redskins, and Kansas City Chiefs.

At Ohio Wesleyan, Rucker was an All-America selection during each of his three seasons with the Bishops, highlighted by first-team Kodak honors in 1991 and Associated Press Little All-America citations in 1990 and 1991. He also was a seven-time All-America honoree in track & field, winning four national championships in the shot put and discus. He was inducted into the Ohio Wesleyan Athletics Hall of Fame in 2003.

Rucker will be working with one familiar face in Pat Delaney, who was the Bishops’ defensive coordinator in 2000 and is back for his 18th season at Ohio Wesleyan, but most of the rest of the coaching staff is new as Watts begins his first season at the Ohio Wesleyan helm.

The remainder of the full-time and part-time staff:

  • Todd Alles, who played, coached, and served as an administrator at The Ohio State University and was an administrator at the University of Alabama, will coach cornerbacks and serve as the Bishops’ special teams coordinator;
  • Ian Formaz, who comes to Ohio Wesleyan as co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach after serving as offensive line coach and strength & conditioning coordinator at Lake Erie College for five seasons, guiding the Storm to a pair of national top-25 rankings in rushing;
  • Mike Ward, a 2007 Ohio Wesleyan graduate who will be co-offensive coordinator and coach quarterbacks in his second season on the Bishop staff;
  • Terry Lichtenberg, a former head coach at Thomas Worthington High School who returns for his second stint at Ohio Wesleyan and will coach wide receivers;
  • Jerry Williams, a former assistant coach at Mount Vernon High School who will coach running backs;
  • Matt Brown, a 2011 Baldwin-Wallace graduate who will coach tight ends;
  • Pat Embleton ’12, a standout tight end for the Battling Bishops who will assist with the running backs this season;
  • Keegan Varner ’12, a starter at quarterback and safety for the Battling Bishops who will assist with the linebackers this season;
  • Ryan Wallace, a 2011 Baldwin-Wallace graduate who will coach safeties.


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