Lions draft UM’s Jake Rudock, validating interest

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Jake Rudock

Former Michigan quarterback Jake Rudock had to wait, but was finally drafted in the sixth round by the Lions, who had expressed considerable interest since Michigan's pro day last month.

Rudock, who led Michigan to a 10-3 record last season and was MVP of the Citrus Bowl, spent his graduate season with the Wolverines after starting two years for the Iowa Hawkeyes

The Lions made him the 191st overall pick Saturday.

Center Graham Glasgow was the first former Michigan player selected in the NFL draft, going to the Lions in the third round on Friday. Rudock quickly reached out to the man who snapped for him in college and will snap for him again starting next week in rookie minicamp.

“I just shot him a quick text and just said, ‘Hey, what’s up teammate?’” Rudock said on a teleconference Saturday. “He was like, ‘Wait, are you serious?’ Yeah, so that was pretty awesome.”

Defensive lineman Willie Henry, who left U-M with a year of eligibility remaining, was selected by the Baltimore Ravens in the fourth round with the 132nd overall pick. He was the first of the Michigan players selected Saturday.

Among the former Wolverines draft hopefuls are defensive lineman Mario Ojemudia, former linebackers Joe Bolden, Desmond Morgan and James Ross, fullbacks Joe Kerridge and Sione Houma and safety Jarrod Wilson.

About midway through last season, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said Rudock was NFL-ready and called him “tough as a $2 steak.”

UM’s Henry: It’s ‘great’ to play for another Harbaugh

Rudock said last month he was “fueled” by not receiving an invite to the NFL combine. He had a strong showing at Michigan’s pro day last month.

He has grown used to the doubters, and used that doubt to push him to succeed.

“That’s kind of happened forever with me and football, unfortunately,” Rudock said last month. “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 blocked as only a pro-style quarterback. 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.’”

Rudock said working with Harbaugh, a former Michigan and NFL quarterback, helped him improve.

“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, I don’t read the media, I don’t read all that stuff during the season. But then you hear about it and you hear his response, 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 does that, 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 is nine credits shy of his master’s degree at Michigan.

Michigan assistant coach Jedd Fisch said last month he believes Rudock has tremendous upside for any NFL 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. “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.”