Sunday afternoon, members of the class of 2015 at St. Charles West High School will officially receive their diplomas, and begin the next chapter of their lives. We were intrigued by the story of Senior linebacker Blake Rugraff. He’s now SCW’s leading all-time tackler and one of the leading tacklers anywhere in the state of Missouri over the last few years, but the recruiting world wasn’t waiting with baited breath about his college choice on National Signing Day. There was no ceremony for his decision. And yet, after today, he’ll be on his way to Eugene, Oregon to earn his way as a walk-on for last season’s national runner-up, the Oregon Ducks. Here’s how it happened, in his own words.
It all started my sophomore year when I didn’t break into the varsity line up. I didn’t get to play varsity as a sophomore which I think was a key factor of how I got to were I’m at. I say that because it makes you realize that not everything is going to be handed to you. If you want something you got to work day and night for it. I worked out on the daily, two times a day sometimes. Time junior year came I was starting both ways linebacker and fullback. I had a great start to the season and gained a little bit of attention from some schools. By the end of the season I had various division 2 and d1-aa schools talking to me. I hurt my foot in wrestling a few weeks later and affected me from being able to participate in a lot of the spring camps/combines. Around April was when I was back to 100%. I feel I missed out on a lot of opportunities from missing the camps and combines, but sometimes things just happen. I was getting most of my attention from Ivy League schools. The Ivy League would’ve been a great opportunity and education, but my ACT was about 2 points too low for each school. So I did what any athlete would do and worked even harder.
Senior season ‘snuck’ up faster then I could imagine and ended in a blink of an eye. Texas A&M gave me a chance to do a preferred walk on, I kept that as a back up idea. Through the season I was receiving offers from d1-aa and d-2 schools. I took my visits to the schools that I was most interested in. Then two days before signing day I received an email from the university of Oregon telling me they would like to give a preferred walk on. They weren’t necessarily that aggressive about it. They had all their recruiting done and I thought that was probably the reason. In my mind I had my mind made up that it’s a done deal. I talked to various people about it and heard what they had to say. I mostly heard why pass up a free education and playing time. To myself, I thought nothings free I’m not going to go anywhere and just get it handed to me. Then I thought of football what I loved about it, the atmosphere, the hard work you put in and seeing the results on the field. I figure Oregon gave me the best opportunity for reaching my potential. My parents respect my ambition and are making an ultimate sacrifice. I’m lucky that my parents are willing to make the sacrifice and have done nothing but support me. My father and I spending countless hours of putting together emails and sending them out to coaches. Then my mother told me “you’re only going to make this decision one time, and in life you get one chance so don’t look back in life and say what if. Look back and say you gave it everything you had.”
The decision of going to Oregon is tough I’m leaving all my friends and family in Missouri, but it’s a sacrifice I’ve got to make. I gave up what every player loves, the spotlight. I didn’t sign any paper or get in front of a camera. Yeah, it’s frustrating knowing how hard I worked and I am only a walk on. It’s just a chip I got on my shoulder and it’s only going to make me work and push that much harder. My father taught me set goals and go after you dreams and just believe in yourself. So I had made my decision to make my own path and go to Oregon.