Kaimon Rucker is North Carolina’s Multi-Dimensional Dynamo

A dangerous pass rusher with a winning smile, Kaimon Rucker is a multi-dimensional dynamo and force for good in the North Carolina community.

When you see North Carolina pass rusher Kaimon Rucker flying off the edge on fall Saturdays, it’s easy to think of him as merely a football player. However, the man they call “Ruck The Butcher” is far more than the defensive dominator causing opposing coordinators’ concern.

The senior Tar Heel is an all-singing, all-dancing, multi-dimensional dynamo and force for good.

Kaimon Rucker is North Carolina’s Multi-Dimensional Dynamo

“I never wanted to be known as just a football player,” Rucker emphasizes less than two minutes into an exclusive one-on-one interview with College Football Network.

The North Carolina pass rusher has worked diligently to maximize his time — and reach — while on Chapel Hill, leading to national recognition with a nomination to the 32nd AllState AFCA Good Works team.

“I wanted football to be something that I’m good at, not who I am. I soon figured out that my passion was to help others, to care for others, to serve others. Over the span of time, I started seeing myself doing that more and more.”

Bursting onto the scene as a true freshman amidst the global disruption of the 2020 college football campaign, there’s no denying that football is definitely something that Rucker is good at. He heads into the 2023 college football season with 37 appearances to his name, 15.5 career tackles for loss with 7.5 sacks, and is coming off his most productive season to date.

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At the same time, being a football player at North Carolina certainly doesn’t define who Rucker is. The fourth-year senior is a joker with an infectious smile; he’s showcased multiple talents away from the field. He’s an astute businessman with an eye on the future while taking part in a sport that offers a limited shelf life. He’s truly a multi-dimensional force within the program.

Who Rucker is, from football player to philanthropist, the many layers and levels that make up the man—not just the pass rush menace—perhaps can be traced back to the advice of the man who raised him. Kendall Rucker instilled faith and family values, but also words of wisdom that helped guide the way for who the North Carolina senior wants to be every single day.

“Carpe Diem, which is Latin for seize the moment,” Rucker explains what words of wisdom formed his foundation of giving. “He’s always told me to seize every opportunity that I have. Whether that’s on the football field, or helping out with others. Always seize the moment because you never know if that’s a life-changing moment or one that you’ll regret.”

Rucker Wants to be a Role Model

Rucker’s infectious personality, which manifests itself as a ball of smiles and energy, leads you to imagine that he’s never made a decision he regrets while seizing every moment. Of course, there have been hurdles and obstacles; not every moment can be smiles and sunshine. However, he tries to inject as much of that energy into his pursuit of servitude and community giving.

His work with UNC Children’s Hospital helps give him perspective.

“It just makes me very grateful for the life that I live,” Rucker explains. “There are times when I don’t want to do things, and I get a little lazy or complacent, and often we take each and every day, hour, minute, and second for granted. Going to the UNC Children’s Hospital makes me grateful for the life that I live because there are kids going through a lot more than I am.”

“Understanding the battles they’re continuously going through each and every day, each and every second, it makes me very passionate to go out and give them a smile on their face. The whole experience has been a blessing, and I’m glad that I’ve been as involved as I have been this past year. I want to continue to do that as long as I’m here.”

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As part of his community endeavors, Rucker has been able to impact and nurture potential Tar Heels while running youth football camps. While being another opportunity to give back to the community, it allows the North Carolina pass rusher to maintain a link to his youth. He might be all business on the football field, but that doesn’t define who he is away from it.

“All they want to do is throw the ball and run around, and to be honest, that’s all I want to do too. It allows me to be a kid again. It allows me to show them that although I’m a 21-year-old in college, it doesn’t mean that I have to put on this persona as a full-time adult. I want to have fun, to be out there to support them. It’s a joy to mess around with them on my off time.”

There’s a theme that flows through the community projects that Rucker is involved in. In addition to the camps and hospital visits, the North Carolina pass rusher participates in “Extra Yard for Teachers,” an initiative that sees him go into schools and read to kids. It transpires that the element of being a role model to youth in the community is what inspires his ongoing work.

“Just to be a role model that I wish I’d have seen when I was younger,” Rucker explains his drive and determination for community endeavors. “I always felt as if the people who came through our schools didn’t speak to me as frequently as I would have loved them to. I want to be that person that I wish I’d have seen when I was younger. That’s what I’m targeting.”

All-Singing, All-Dancing

The depths of Rucker’s multi-dimensional impact on the University of North Carolina aren’t limited to the football field or to the numerous community endeavors that saw him recently add the Wuerffel Trophy watchlist and the AllState AFCA Good Works team nomination.

When we called him all-singing and all-dancing in the introduction, it was literal, not metaphorical.

The Tar Heel talent recently showcased some more of his personality and talent as the co-host of the Rammy Awards. The in-house event recognizes the achievements of UNC students, with Rucker and women’s basketball star Malu Tshitenge co-hosting the event, telling jokes about NIL and the transfer portal, and showcasing silky footwork on the dance floor.

“One of the most memorable parts of the Rammy’s was me dancing,” Rucker laughs. “I’m not a dancer, at all. Just me going on that stage, and showing that side of me that a lot of people don’t see. It was very funny, having my teammates in the back hyping me and filming the whole thing. It was very funny.”

While not many people were aware of Rucker’s dancing prowess, his talents as a singer were seen nationally when he was asked to perform as the Tar Heels’ representative during the “Final Four” of basketball’s “March Madness” tournament. North Carolina is a renowned basketball school, but their star football player took the stage and stole the spotlight with the mic.

“I. Was. Nervous,” Rucker recalls his experience of singing the national anthem in front of a packed crowd in New Orleans. “But, I had an amazing time. They hooked us up with an amazing voice teacher down there in Tulane. She taught us everything, how to hold a note, how to enunciate our vowels. That whole experience was great.”

Rucker is a Mental Health Advocate

Rucker has continued to live his collegiate experience through his Dad’s advice of seizing every opportunity. North Carolina has given him the platform to be dominant on the football field and allowed him to establish his personality away from the field as a force in the community.

His relentless energy and lightheartedness are powerful and intoxicating, but there is also depth to this multi-dimensional man. Rucker took part in a NIL summit, helping him understand the business of football, crafting life lessons that are often overlooked when discussing a topic that has proven extremely divisive in college football circles.

Meanwhile, in representing the program at the UNC Mental Health Symposium, Rucker was able to showcase his further depth beyond being simply a football player, drawing on personal experiences from his time as a student-athlete while mobilizing those for life beyond football.

“My undergraduate degree is in psychology and I want to go into my Master’s in mental health counseling and continue my career as a sports psychologist. Having the opportunity to speak at the symposium was a blessing. It allowed me to be be transparent, allowing people to understand what student-athletes go through and what I went through personally.”

“Dealing with a lot of anxiety,” Rucker continues, opening up about an element of his personality that might not be apparent when you interact with his smiling persona. “I had to go through a little bit of verbal abuse every now and again. There were a lot of different things that I had to go through as a person, not just as a football player, but as me, Kaimon Rucker.”

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“Allowing them to see that side of me that a lot of people didn’t see. A lot of people on my own team, other sports at the university, staff members. They always see this person with the smile on their face, thinking that everything was fine, but there was some stuff on the back end that I was dealing with.”

Giving back to the community has helped ensure that the smile that is seemingly plastered on Rucker during every second of our interview isn’t hiding a multitude of issues. Helping put a smile on other people’s faces has proven positive for his own mental health. Does the smile hide a more dangerous personality when he hits the field on a Saturday?

“I would say my football persona is a lot more aggressive than I am in my actual persona outside of football,” Rucker laughs. “Besides that, I don’t really change. I smile just the same on the field. I’ll crack jokes on the field, I’ll laugh like this on the field. Depending on who we play, if I know someone really well, I’ll crack jokes with the opposition.”

“There’s not a lot of differences,” Rucker sums up the difference between the man and the football player. “They’re very similar but I will say that my football side is a lot more aggressive than my actual self.”

Described as being “as aggressive as a ball of butcher knives” on the football field, a reference that formed a nickname that became a brand, Rucker is looking to dominate on fall Saturdays in 2023. He’s a dynamic pass rusher on the field, but he’s a multi-dimensional dynamo away from it.

The two combine to make him a force for good in the North Carolina community.