Neuqua Valley and North Central College alum Broc Rutter hopes to hear his name called during the NFL draft starting on April 23rd. The Wildcat/Cardinal sits down with Kevin Jackman to talk about the crazy process since winning the D3 Football Championships in December, presented by Edward Medical Group.
A Waiting Game
Broc: “I’m really just waiting for one phone call, that’s all I need and I feel like if I get that one opportunity I can make the most of it.”
Broc Rutter has been making the most of opportunities his whole life. The Naperville product led his high school football team, Neuqua Valley, to the third round of the playoffs as a senior, only losing to eventual state champion, Naperville Central. After spending a year at division one program, Indiana State, the quarterback transferred home to North Central College in 2016. The division three program then captured its first National Championship in 2019, in Rutter’s final collegiate season.
The experience at Neuqua and North Central, under the tutelage of Head Coaches Bill Ellinghaus and Jeff Thorne, has proved critical for the now-NFL prospect.
Broc: “Tons, they’re both great people, I have great relationships with both of them. They’ve just been so supportive throughout this whole process. Anything I need, they’re there for me. If I have any questions, they’re there for me. They’re really just being great people like they’ve been their whole lives and continuing this relationship and just wishing me the best of luck.”
The process Rutter is referring to is his journey to the National Football League, an opportunity afforded to very few D3 players.
Broc: They all have acknowledged it, from a smaller school you’re at a disadvantage but I think the one thing that stood out is: a couple of them have said ‘hey, you’re from a small school – you’re not from the Big Ten of SEC – we feel your room to grow is exponentially more than some of these other guys who will be picked in the later rounds that have played in these huge conferences against huge teams. We feel like you can come in here and adjust to the speed of the game and learn the game.’ And I love the game of football, I think that’s my strength is understanding the game of football.
It’s that quick mind and strong arm that led Rutter straight into the record book. But rewriting North Central’s history is one thing; claiming the D3 passing record from a current NFL quarterback is another.
Alex Tanney. He played at Monmouth, division three, he had the passing record for a while. He’s had himself a 6-7 year career on the New York Giants. He’s been in the league as a backup. He’s such a great role model for guys like me who came from a division three school, put up some really good numbers and then just got on opportunity and made the most of it.
Before Broc Rutter can get an opportunity to lace up on Sunday’s, the quarterback must go through the most unique draft experience in the history of the modern-day NFL. The draft will be held virtually, most pro-days were cancelled and his interviews with teams are being conducted over video conference.
There’s not a single draft prospect that has experienced anything like this. There isn’t an agent out there that has experience this. So, it’s really new for everyone and you just have to make the most of it and do what you can to be ready if you get the opportunity.
Just a year ago, Rutter was on the outside looking in as a long-shot prospect just to get noticed. Told by scouts he needed to stand out in his senior season, Rutter and the Cardinals traveled to Mount Union in the second round of the post-season and took down the number one team in the nation. With Goliath slayed, Rutter and the Cardinals got their time in the spotlight.
I think that game was huge. Not just for me but for the whole program. Mount Union is the division three school that everyone knows, everyone knows them and Whitewater are the powerhouses. Mount Union produces NFL guys all the time and they were really talented again this year. So I think going out there and doing what we did and battling back so many times, it really put us on the radar. Obviously when a game is 59-52 it’s catch some eyes.
The rest is history. Three routs followed, as North Central won the National Championship and Broc Rutter earned the Gagliardi trophy – the D3 equivalent to the Heisman.
It hasn’t slowed down since that fateful title game in December, if anything life has become more hectic for Rutter and his family.
They’re loving it, I think my mom is as stressed as she’s ever been. It’s tough on them because right after the National Championship we took a trip to Florida and then I’ve been out in Colorado for such a long time. So, we really haven’t gotten a chance to see each other a ton. Getting to see each other and spend draft night together will be a really cool moment.
A handful of teams have remained active in pursuing the Naperville quarterback, going beyond just gathering and evaluating tape on the most accomplished QB in D3 history. So it’ll be no surprise that, over the course of the NFL draft (which starts April 23rd), Rutter may get that call he’s been waiting for.
Check out other features like this one on our Sports Stories Page!
LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
If you're a high school sports fan, please consider a donation to Naperville's nonprofit TV station!Donate Today!