This was not an easy decision to make. I had to weigh all my options. I will still be on campus next year and will still write my editorial column, but I decided it was in my best interest to take my sportswriting to the professional level.
Tim Vacek was selected by The Tennessean with the first pick of the first round of the Tennessee Sportswriters Draft, and I was taken by the Chattanooga Times-Free Press with the second pick.
Vacek and The Tennessean have agreed to terms on a lucrative one-year contract, and I'm still working out the details with The Times-Free Press and my agent, Drew Edwards.
"Rucker was a steal with the second pick," Edwards said. "Mel Kiper, Jr., said he was the best available writer in the draft, but The Tennessean went with Vacek because of Rucker's character issues, both in and out of the office.
"I'm here to tell you now that Rucker has no character issues. At least he has some character. It's Vacek that has no character."
On a serious note, there are several people who made impacts on my life and made me the quasi-competent and quasi-coherent man (err ... boy) that you see on your paper today.
First off, my family.
To Dad, thanks for understanding I'm not as tough as you. While I'll never work half as hard as you did, I'll be happy if I turn out to be half the man you are.
To Mom, thanks for trying to make a man out of an obnoxious, loquacious, immature boy. While the jury's still out on that one, I can't think of anyone who could put up with more filth and nonsense from Dad, Grant and me than you did.
To Molly, you'll be in college next year. Learn from the mistakes I've made. Please, I know what I'm talking about. And stay away from college guys; Lord knows we're all pricks.
To Grant, college is still 11 years away for you. Learn from the mistakes I've made. Be good to Mom and give Dad as much hell as you want. And Bubby will see more of your games now that he's not in the office every day.
To all the guys who came before me - I raise my glass to you, and I owe you all a round.
To Josh Pate, the bad mah-muh-jamma, who taught me the ropes. And how to rap.
To Travis Haney, the meticulous, who taught me to care for each word I type. Thanks for teaching me how one bad word can ruin an entire story, and thanks for keeping my ego in check. Thanks for making sure I never got too big for my britches.
To Brad Shepard, "Jimmy Boo-fay," thanks for showing me how to find an anecdote, how to get a good quote and how to cover a football game wasted.
To Drew Edwards, my man, the yin to my yang, my surrogate brother. No one will ever see the world the way we do, but when we take it over, they'll have a hunch.
To Jeff Haws, the liberal, thanks for the stimulating political conversations. By the way, I was always right, you self-righteous nancy pants.
And, finally, to Tim Vacek, the little one, my partner in crime. Thanks for putting up with me for three years so far, and what will surely be a wild epilogue. Think of it this way, one of us had to be the extrovert.
You came to me as a co-worker, and now you're one of my life-long friends. Thanks for doing your best to keep me on the straight and narrow.
Onto the future. Unless you've been in a cave the last three years, you've noticed that the Beacon Sports Desk is turning into a professional factory that rivals Phillip Fulmer's football team. Next year will be no exception.
Brett Edgerton and Glenn "Goober" LaFollette are highly-qualified editors, and Jeff Cohran, Derek Sparkman, Scott Simmons, Jeremy Durham and Ashley Tharpe are skilled writers. Don't expect much of a drop-off.
And lastly, to you, the reader. Thanks for reading me the past three years. The editorial column will still be around next year but, this is, in all likelihood, the last back page story of my young career. I wouldn't be where I am if y'all didn't read. Much love.
I'd like to leave you with two thoughts. David Carradine once said, "If you cannot be the poet, be the poem."
And Dr. Seuss once said, "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."
In this world of trends and social conformity we live in, don't be afraid to be you. I'd like to leave you thinking that one over.
It's been a pleasure. Until the next chapter ...

- Wesley Rucker is retiring as assistant sports editor of The Daily Beacon. He will cover Tennessee football and women's basketball for the Chattanooga Times-Free Press next year. He can be reached at whattheruck@hotmail.com.