The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

A bit of fatherly advice

Jonathan Rueter called his father.

It was three days after the beginning of his freshman camp in 2002.

He had clashed with Eastern’s offensive line coach and called his father to tell him that he was considering quitting the team and coming back to Springfield.

His father, however, was having none of it.

John Rueter told his son that he had a chance that not many others had: to receive a full scholarship and pay for it by playing football.

Six months later, Jonathan called his father and told him that it had clicked.

“I made it such a big deal that it wasn’t fun anymore,” Rueter said. “(The talk with his father) was a realistic talk about my future and what was going to happen if I decided to give up this opportunity.”

What was going to happen, Rueter’s father told him, was he was going to get a job and go to a community college. Rueter changed his mind.

More than four years later, Rueter will be playing in the second Magnolia All-Star Gridiron Classic on Dec. 23 in Jackson, Miss. The game is a postseason all-star game for college football players that might not get another chance to play in front of scouts. Rueter was named first team all-Ohio Valley Conference at the end of the season. It was the second straight season he earned the honors.

The awards are a byproduct of Rueter’s hard work and a childhood that had him battle through the death of his mother, Donna, when he was 12 years old.

Rueter was named to his junior football league’s all-star team when his mother, who had battled cancer for nearly four years, passed away three days before the game was to be played.

Instead of skipping the game, Jonathan decided to play. He helped the team win and even to this day, Jonathan’s father rings a bell in the stands to let him know that his mother is looking down at him.

It is an event he has used for motivation in both his athletic and academic careers.

The last two summers, he has remained in Charleston lifting weights as often as he could.

He has started in 46 of the 47 games the Panthers have played since his red-shirt freshman season, despite dealing with nagging shoulder injuries and having surgery after the 2005 season.

But those are not the things he is most proud of.

“Academics have always come first,” he said. “I have never put academics on the backburner.”

Rueter was named to the first team Academic All-District 5 Football team for the second time in November.

It is an award that is voted on by sports information directors in four states.

Rueter is a biology major and has a cumulative grade point average of 3.71.

Being named to the academic teams is something his father said he is most proud of his son for.

“I’m quite proud of his on- and off-the-field accomplishments,” John Rueter said. “When you have people come up to you and say ‘You have an outstanding boy,’ it’s nice.”

Jonathan said his academic accomplishments have a little more meaning to him than his football awards.

“I’d rather take an academic accolade over a football accolade any day of the week,” he said. “That’s just something that’s been instilled in me since I was a little kid. I think I’ve had one C my entire life. I was scared to come home if I got a C or lower.”

The upbringing has given Rueter a perspective that not many players have.

He said that while he appreciated all the sport has done for him during his college career, it’s still just entertainment.

“It’s a game to me,” he said. “That’s what I liked about it in high school. It’s just fun. It’s not make or break. I take it as a game made by man for entertainment. I enjoy it but it’s not my life.”

He said he is looking forward to losing a lot of weight, enjoying pain-free autumns and seeing what kind of accomplishments he can achieve with his mind, rather than his body.

“It’s a violent game,” he said. “You can’t bank your future on it, that’s for sure. There are no guarantees.”

After Rueter’s first season, the Panthers hired current offensive line coach Mark Hutson. Rueter returned to having fun after an initial season that wore on him.

Hutson worked with Rueter for four years and said he can’t say enough about the work he puts into improving on and off the field.

“He’s got a great work ethic,” Hutson said. “He’s a role model for the rest of our student-athletes. All the accolades are well deserved.”

Although Rueter said he would have to sit down and weigh his options with his fiancee if an offer from a scout materialized, Hutson said he has the tools.

“He has the size and athletic ability and certainly has the intelligence,” he said.

One benefactor of Rueter and the Panthers’ solid offensive line was running back Vincent Webb, Jr.

Webb rushed for 4,233 yards in his career and is the second-leading career rusher in Eastern history.

“I couldn’t have run for 4,000 yards without great blockers,” he said. “(Rueter) is a great technician. That’s his biggest asset.”

Hutson developed a strong relationship with Rueter and has to turn to the task of replacing him.

“I have to develop another Jon Rueter,” he said.

That might not have been a problem had it not been for the talk Rueter had with his father less than a week after he arrived at Eastern.

“That’s probably the moment I started pulling away and becoming my own man,” Rueter said. “That’s when my dad kind of said it’s time to spread your wings a little bit. It was probably the best talk my dad’s ever given me.”

A bit of fatherly advice

A bit of fatherly advice

Senior offensive guard Jon Rueter was a member of the Ohio Valley Conference leading live which allowed only nine sacks for a loss of 76 yards last season. (Eric Hiltner/The Daily Eastern News)


Leave a Comment

Comments (0)

Commenting on the Daily Eastern News web site is a privilege, not a right. We reserve the right to remove comments that contain obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language. Also, comments containing personal attacks or threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
All The Daily Eastern News Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest