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Former Gladiators player, Tim Rucks, dies

Former Racine Gladiator Tim RucksFormer Racine Gladiators player Tim Rucks is dead from a heart attack at the age of 54, according to the website D3Football.com.

Rucks played football at Carthage College under legendary head coach Art Keller. He earned All-CCIW honors twice as an offensive tackle. As a senior, he earned first team honors in 1982.

After graduating in 1983, the Denver Gold drafted him in the 14th round in the inaugural United States Football League (USFL) draft. Rucks was drafted ahead of players that had long and successful careers in the National Football League, including punter Sean Landeta and quarterback Jim Kelly. Landeta was drafted immediately after Rucks and Kelly was drafted three spots later by the Chicago Blitz.

USFL Round 14 DraftRucks would forego the USFL, however, signing a free agent contract with the New York Jets of the National Football League on May 5. He was cut by the team on August 12, however.

Rucks played one season for the Gladiators, in 1984, before playing one season with the Chicago Chargers. He was named an all-league and all-minor league player in his season with the Gladiators. He also served on the board of directors of the Racine Raiders. Rucks was inducted into the Minor League Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, in 1992.

After his playing days, Rucks went on to coach for three seasons at Niles North High School in Skokie, Illinois. He then became an assistant coach at North Park University for one season before being named head coach. At 29, he was the youngest head coach in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

After five years at North Park University, Rucks went to Carthage College in Kenosha. He took a program that didn’t have a winning season in their previous 13 years, and compiled a winning record in three of his first four seasons. Rucks led Carthage to the first NCAA playoff appearance in school history in 2004 and earned CCIW Coach of the Year and NCAA D3 Regional Coach of the Year honors.

After 18 years at the helm of the Carthage football program, Rucks stepped down as head coach following the 2012 season. He stayed on the Carthage staff as an Assistant Athletics Director. Rucks finished second in Carthage football history with 107 career wins.

In recent years, Rucks was volunteering his time coaching youth football.

Rucks was inducted into the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2014. He is also a member of the Waukegan Sports Hall of Fame, having been a three-sport athlete at Waukegan High School, playing football, baseball and basketball.