Bucs linebacker Barrett Ruud was born to be a Cornhusker. Considering he had four relatives precede him at Nebraska, seems he didn't have much choice. Ruud sat down with Times staff writer Stephen F. Holder to discuss his family ties, fashion faux pas and Derrick Brooks' erratic golf game.
Your grandfather, father and two uncles played at Nebraska. Did you have the option to go to any other school?
Actually, (my family) was pretty open about it. But my mom (a Nebraska graduate) was big on me staying closer to home. My dad, when he was getting recruited, he took about 10 recruiting trips. So he was definitely up for it. But when Nebraska finally offered (a scholarship), the other offers I had, by comparison, didn't really measure up.
Your brother plays there, too. How's he doing?
He's playing outside linebacker. He's doing well. This is his redshirt junior season. I try to let him do his own thing. I tell him little things here and there. But one thing about my brother is he's not going to listen to me too much. We're only like 14 months apart. We're just both a couple of slappys who don't pay attention to each other.
Your dad played for (Bucs defensive coordinator) Monte Kiffin at Nebraska, right?
Yes. Basically, it seems like he's the exact same as he is now except he doesn't smoke anymore. Besides that, he was the exact same guy.
So your dad loved the idea of you playing in Tampa Bay?
Oh, he was so pumped. Really, Tampa Bay was always the team I watched growing up because Monte was the coordinator and my dad always talked about him. He would tell me, "Hey, you really need to watch these guys play. They do a lot of good things on that defense."
So he played in the Tampa 2 before it was the Tampa 2.
Well, kind of. It wasn't quite Tampa 2 back then, but come to think of it, the philosophies were kind of the same.
What are family gatherings like? Must be like a Nebraska reunion.
I remember growing up, my uncle always had a Labor Day weekend party, and that's always when Nebraska plays their first game. It's kind of fun to listen to those old guys get into it back and forth.
How are things back home since your mother died unexpectedly?
It's a process. The good thing for my brother and sister (a sophomore at Nebraska) is that they're close to home. They keep each other occupied. And with my dad, he just likes to stay busy. It's good during football season because he has my games down here and he has my brother's games in Lincoln. So sports have really helped him a lot.
What do your teammates pick on you about? Everyone around here has something that causes them to be ragged on.
Most of them get on me about my wardrobe. Apparently, there's a rule around here that when you lift your arms up, your shirt can't ever (expose) your belly button. I don't like to wear huge shirts, and I don't like to wear them skintight, either. But I like them a little bit small.
Who are the ringleaders?
You know, (Derrick) Brooks and Shelton (Quarles). They also get on me for my music. I like a pretty wide variety of music, but I kind of like the older jam band type music.
I see you're wearing a Grateful Dead T-shirt.
Yeah. It was just the first thing I saw when I got dressed this morning. I'm a fan.
What sport do you enjoy other than football?
I've always been into basketball. And I was actually pretty good at it because I played growing up. At least until I got to 10th grade and stopped growing. When you're a 6-2 small forward, you're not going to go much farther. But once I got to college, I started playing golf a lot, and I really, really got into it. In fact, unless it's a really, really big football game, I'd probably watch golf over football.
And are you paying more attention to technique or just as a spectator?
No, I'm definitely trying to pick things up. I can sit there and watch the U.S. Open from 9 in the morning until the end, the whole round.
So how is your game?
When I get out in the summer and play all the time, I can probably get to a 6 handicap. Right now, I'd probably be a 10. But around here, (Tim) Rattay's the best golfer.
How much do you play with your fellow linebackers?
Oh, please. I wouldn't have any problem with the linebackers. I've played with Brooks and Shelton. Brooks can crush the ball. He hits a long way, but he has no idea where it's going. He's probably the funniest guy to play with because he's always talking to his clubs. He's really into it. But he'll hit his pitching wedge as far as I hit my 6-iron because he swings so hard. But I can still beat him.
Height, weight: 6-2; 241
Acquired: Second-round pick in 2005 (36th overall)
Career: One of three Bucs rookies (guard Dan Buenning and tight end Alex Smith) to appear in all 17 games in 2005. ... Tied for fourth on the team with 18 tackles on special teams. ... Has appeared in every game in 2006 with five starts.
2006 stats: 54 tackles (37 solo, 37 assists)