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AAs Not a Tall Order for Ruther

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AAs Not a Tall Order for Ruther

The Men’s Collegiate All Americans are almost set to fly out to Australia for a three-game tour, and there is at least one player still shaking his head at the excitement of it all.

“I really didn’t think it would happen,” said UMass lock Mike Ruther. “It wasn’t on my mind, and the invitation really came out of the blue. But it’s an awesome opportunity.”

Ruther is a tall - very tall - and rangy lock for the Minutemen and the best play on the team. But playing in DIAA on a team that didn’t win its conference is a tough way to get noticed for the All Americans. Ruther’s height, and his work ethic, did the job.

“The first thing people notice is that I’m tall,” acknowledged Ruther, “but I want to show there’s more to the game than my height. One of the biggest things I bring to a team, I think, is working within the system. I can work in any system. I have been working on my passing and offloading, and making those kinds of plays that set up a bigger play.”

Ruther said he knows a good lock has to cover the ground like a loose forward, and then hit hard at the tackle line. He has been working on those aspects of play, too. In high school - Fairfield Prep in Connecticut, where he also played rugby - Ruther was an offensive lineman on the football team. At that position, coaches wanted him to be 300 points. He worked hard to drop the weight.

“I came to UMass at about 285, but since then I’ve lost a significant amount of weight - it’s all part of the effort of trying to be faster and more mobile,” he said. Now at 6-8, 255, Ruther is big, but not so big props quake at the thought of lifting him in the lineout.

It’s not hard to assume he will be expected to make an difference in the lineout. Ruther said he plans to dow whatever he can. and to learn everything he can.

“I am not intimidated by being a DIAA guys among all these guys from programs in DIA and Varsity Cup. I can only play as well as I can play. The coaches obviously saw something that showed I belong, and I credit Frank Decker and Mark Stepsis at Fairfield Prep for really laying down the foundation for how to play the game and helping me become the kind of player I am. And then Phil Ciccarelli at UMass got me pas the foundation of basic skills to the next level.”

Ruther is going into his junior year at UMass. The Economics and Political Science major still has a lot of time to work on his college game. But this trip with the All Americans is a huge step for him. Could it be a step toward something more? Like the Eagles?

“The National Team” Honestly it has never crossed me mind. I think it’s a little bit too soon to talk about that,” said the Minuteman. “I am just going to keep trying to improve and see where it all goes.”

We’re thinking it’s going upward, and that’s not just a height joke.