Kaimon Rucker named amongst nation’s best edge rushers

Defense isn’t an area the North Carolina Tar Heels’ football team excels in, but it has sported a couple of talented standouts in recent years.

One of those standouts is 2023 starting Jack linebacker Kaimon Rucker, who will almost certainly bolster this year’s defense with his return announced earlier this offseason.

Rucker was UNC’s “sack king” last year, as he led the team with 8.5 sacks. Rucker also had a penchant for wrapping up the ballcarrier and driving them backwards, leading North Carolina with 15 tackles for loss. In four seasons as a Tar Heel, Rucker has 16 sacks and 30.5 tackles for loss.

Heading into 2024, Rucker was ranked as ESPN’s sixth-best edge rusher.

“Rucker is one of the nation’s most experienced pass-rushers, having started games in each of the past four seasons,” ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg wrote. “Although he showed the ability to disrupt quarterbacks early in his career, he didn’t have a true breakout year until 2023, when Rucker opened with a career performance in a win over South Carolina.An unheralded three-star recruit out of Georgia, Rucker gives new Tar Heels defensive coordinator Geoff Collins a proven star off the edge in 2024. At 6-foot-2 and 265 pounds, Rucker is a bit undersized but makes up for it with his technique and savvy in pursuing quarterbacks. He will be one of the ACC’s most recognizable defenders entering the fall.”

I echo Rittenberg’s statement: Rucker will make things significantly easier for new UNC defensive coordinator Geoff Collins. Rucker will be the star of a defensive unit that lost a few players to the transfer portal, including Kedrick Bingley-Jones and Tayon Halloway.

Will Rucker’s talent and leadership be enough for the Tar Heels to play better defensively?

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Story originally appeared on Tarheels Wire