Jake Rudock has fuel for UM pro day, NFL career

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Jake Rudock

Ann Arbor – Jake Rudock is not bitter about not being invited to the NFL combine.

It did affect him, though.

“I was fueled by it,” Rudock, who led Michigan to a 10-3 season and was MVP of the Citrus Bowl, said recently. “It’s one of those things that just happens and you don’t know why and you don’t accept it, but you learn to live with it.”

Rudock, who played in the East-West Shrine Game after the bowl, will participate in Michigan’s pro day on Friday, giving NFL scouts another chance to see him in person, interview, and arrange potential workouts.

While being snubbed for the combine certainly didn’t feel good, Rudock, who transferred to Michigan as a graduate after starting two years at Iowa, said he’s used to being doubted.

“That’s kind of happened forever with me and football, unfortunately,” Rudock said. “It’s just been a lot of, ‘Oh, he’s too small. He’s too this or whatever.’ That’s how it was coming out of high school. I was mostly recruited by the Big Ten, but that wasn’t all of the Big Ten. Everyone had their reasons to say, ‘No, we don’t think you’re good enough.’”

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Rudock, who has not yet hired an agent, said he had a great experience playing at Iowa. But having a year to work with Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, a veteran NFL quarterback, and Jedd Fisch, the Wolverines’ pass-game coordinator who has coached in the NFL, considerably helped his progress.

“It helps having coach Harbaugh, who played quarterback -- there’s not many of those coaches out there,” said Rudock, who is listed at 6-3 and 208 pounds on Michigan’s roster. “It’s really helped me improve a lot.”

He got Harbaugh’s public vote of confidence late last season, calling Rudock an NFL-caliber quarterback and also described him as “tough as a $2 steak.”

“I mean, 10 games into (the season) or whatever it is when you’ve got your coaches completely behind you and even if you come off the field (after making a mistake), there’s no doubt (of Harbaugh’s confidence),” Rudock said. “He’s like, ‘You’re fine, keep doing your thing.’ That makes you feel good.

“But when he’s not just saying it at the game but publicly acknowledging it … you’re just like, ‘All right, I can play. I don’t have to worry.’ Unfortunately, I think that’s kind of lost a little bit in college football and a lot of football is coaches not sticking by their guys all the time. When you have someone who (supports you), I think it makes you play better, honestly.”

Rudock is extremely bright and has always had a studious approach to football. He plans to become a doctor and will finish the semester nine credits shy of his master’s degree. He had always intended to take off the year after his college career concluded, to rest and get refreshed as he prepares for the medical school entrance exams.

Certainly, he doesn’t mind delaying his medical career for football, but this has been a challenging time juggling school, scheduling NFL meetings and training for pro day.

Jake Rudock earned the confidence of his coach, Jim Harbaugh, during the 2015 season.

“I wish someone could prepare you for it, but you really can’t until you experience it,” he said.

Fisch, who has spoken to a lot of NFL teams interested in Rudock and wanting to know more about him, believes Rudock has tremendous upside for any team.

“A team will be very happy when they decide to get Jake Rudock on their team, whether they draft him or sign him as a free agent,” Fisch said this week. “He will walk into that building and he will do everything they want him to do, and he will do it well.

“NFL teams want consistent guys. They want hard-working guys. They want guys that will cause no wake. They want guys in that position that will go out there and be able to perform on the big stage, under the lights and not let it affect him, and that’s why I think Jake’s going to do really well with whichever team decides to bring him in.”

Michigan to Baylor

Harbaugh and his Michigan staff will return the favor and participate in Baylor's camp June 12.

Baylor coach Art Briles made the announcement Thursday on Twitter. Briles spoke at Harbaugh's coaching camp last week.