By Scott Baytala
Media Services Student Assistant
Campbell sophomore linebacker Michael Rudisill talks about playing football at Campbell and what it's like to be coached by a childhood friend.
Question: When did you start playing football and what other sports did you play growing up?
Rudisill: I started playing football around 10 years old. Growing up I played baseball and I was always a recreational guy. I liked to play basketball and things like that, but the only organized sports I ever played were football, baseball and soccer. The only sport I played throughout high school was football.
Q: What factors contributed to your transfer from Appalachian State to Campbell?
Rudisill: I was looking for a school where I could get a little more playing time and a place that felt more like home. I didn't feel as comfortable up there (at App. State) as I do here at Campbell. As soon as I took a visit here, I felt really comfortable. A great atmosphere, all the guys are great, and I just feel like this is the right place for me.
Q: You played in the Southwestern 4A conference at Providence High School in Charlotte, what where some of the biggest transitions from high school football to the FCS level?
Rudisill: I don't think it matters what high level of football you end up playing, but the speed of the game is always going to be the biggest change as well as the amount of knowledge that you have to use when you get out there and use your speed on the field. So you have to apply the speed and the knowledge of the game, making them the biggest differences.
Q: What is one of your favorite parts about being a Fighting Camel football player?
Rudisill: I would have to say the bonds that I have with my teammates. This is a group of about 110 guys and I have a personal relationship with just about each and every single one of them. That is probably the best part of it all for me. I have a brother back home, but with being about three hours away from him, it's good to have about 110 guys here that are just like brothers to me.
Q: In your brief Campbell career, what is your most memorable CU football moment?
Rudisill: I would probably have to say that during our first home game this season (a 76-0 victory over Apprentice) a picked up a fumble and ran it back for a touchdown. It was my first touchdown since I was a sophomore in high school, so that was pretty great (smiling).
Q: Do you have anyone that you look up to or try to model your football game around?
Rudisill: I don't have any athletes that I try to model my game around, but I like to see myself like my dad. My dad is a very hard worker and has been working for the fire department for over 30 years. I just try to apply that philosophy to life and sports and work as hard as I can in everything that I do.
Q: Can you picture yourself playing any position other than linebacker?
Rudisill: I love to be put wherever the coaches need to put me, but I love to have the ball in my hands. Right now they want me at linebacker, so that's what I'm going to do.
Q: So if you could try another position, you would love to try running back for fullback?
Rudisill: Oh yeah! (smiling)
Q: What is your favorite college stadium to play in, and where is the one place you would like to visit and play at?
Rudisill: My favorite place to play is right here at home. I love this atmosphere and I love not having to travel, that's very nice. I enjoy the Camel Walk before each game. The one place that I would love to go and play is to go back to App. (Appalachian State) and play them.
Q: Do you have any goals set for yourself and this football program before your time here at Campbell is finished?
Rudisill: I would love to see this team win a conference championship. I feel like we can do it. I feel like we have the right tools in place, and I feel like the guys are motivated enough. We're talented enough, so it's all about execution from here on out.
Q: Do you have any traditions or rituals that you do before a football game?
Rudisill: The biggest thing that I do before each game is that I pray underneath the goalpost, and after every game I pray under the goalpost. There's no specific prayer, just whatever comes to my mind that day.
Q: Outside of being an athlete and a full-time student, how do you like to spend your free time?
Rudisill: My friends and teammates like to pick on me because I like to sleep all the time. That's one thing about me, if I'm not studying in my free time, then I'm sleeping.
Q: What is it like working with Coach Art Link (Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers coach), and how has he helped to develop you as a man on and off the field?
Rudisill: Coach Link is one of the biggest reasons why I came here. After meeting with him, I could really tell that he wanted to help you understand what you were doing out there on the field and help you get better and understand the knowledge of the game. I've learned so much since I've stepped on this field than I ever knew about the linebacker position before. He's just a great all around guy, he's a great role model and he's a great motivational speaker. Outside of the field he helps prepare you for school and life as well. He's always on you about your grades and about how you act in public. He talks to you about how you carry yourself and tries to bring out the leader in you.
Q: What's it like transitioning from playing football with a childhood friend in Will Phillippi, to him being one of your coaches now?
Rudisill: That's probably one of the most interesting things someone can say about our friendship. Will is like another brother, like my athletic brother. My biological brother likes to play music, whereas Will was my brother who was always asking me to come hang out with him even though he was friends with my brother too. Will would always bring me along and play sports with me. And he was always picking on me and pushing on me and things like that, but it was always in good fun. So it's interesting to call him Coach Will now after all the experiences we have been through from rec. league baseball to high school and to college.
Q: Do you have anything interesting that you like to do during the summertime?
Rudisill: Yeah, I work at a fitness center that's like a YMCA center, and it's located in a Jewish community. A lot of my friends back home are Jewish, and they got me connected with the job. The funny thing about the fitness center is that every there is Christian believe it or not. There is no big difference working there, everyone that I have been around in that building has been nice to me. They have taught me that faith doesn't matter, and it's been a great learning experience.
Q: What are your future plans for after Campbell?
Rudisill: After Campbell, I plan to go on to graduate school and get my master's in psychology and eventually work towards a doctorate degree.
Q: What is it like switching from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 defense?
Rudisill: To me, I actually feel at home in a 3-4 defense. With the 4-3, I was kind of uncomfortable with it when I got here. I didn't have all those guys around me and I felt like I was almost on an island. Now with a 3-4, I feel like I have all my brothers around me and we can flow freely to the ball. We've got a great nose tackle in that of Randel Herring who's always there to clog up the middle. The four-techniques do a great job taking on blocks and shedding off blocks as well. I just feel like our defense and our personnel work better this way. I can't say this is a difficult transition, because I love to play in the middle. Last year I was outside some, but I love the middle.
Q: Is there any mark you would like to leave on the CU football program?
Rudisill: I just want to be known as a guy who helped build this program. I want to be known as a guy who started out with this program and helped build it into a conference championship football team.