New Director of Player Personnel Tim Ruskell, left, will work more closely with General Manager Rich McKay after Monday's promotion
If you're wondering what sort of stamp Tim Ruskell will put on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the near future, you need not wait for an answer. Ruskell's handiwork is apparent on the Bucs' well-stocked roster right now.
On Monday, Tim Ruskell was promoted by the Buccaneers to the position of director of player personnel, succeeding Jerry Angelo, who had filled that post for the past 15 years. Ruskell, who joined the team in 1987 along with Angelo, had spent the past decade as the Bucs' director of college scouting. Last week, Angelo left the Buccaneers to take over as general manager of the Chicago Bears.
As the Bucs' draft efforts of the past half-dozen years have drawn increasingly good press, Angelo, General Manager Rich McKay and Head Coach Tony Dungy have been lauded as the triumvirate responsible for the string of dead-on April decisions. In fact, that group was four-sided, as Ruskell's input has long been considered a critical part of the team's draft-day decision-making.
"I was a part of that," Ruskell confirmed. "They've always made me feel a part of that. I know I've been leaned on in terms of decision making. I've been counted on and put my stamp on guys that we've picked. Yes, this maybe will increase that role, especially in terms of the pro side and free agency, but this organization, Rich and Tony, have always made me feel a big part of that process."
On Monday, though, his role grew larger, and Ruskell, known for his quick but gentle humor, was serious and business-like, ready to tackle this opportunity head-on.
"Sure, any time you get a chance to move up with an organization that you've been with a long time you look forward to it," he said. "This is a really good football team, I've been here a long time, this is my home town – everything has come together to this moment. My family's excited."
As Ruskell indicated, the most significant change in his day-to-day activities will be the addition of pro scouting responsibilities. That means he will be overseeing a staff that includes Director of College Scouting Ruston Webster and Director of Pro Personnel Mark Dominik. Webster was also promoted to this new role on Monday, taking on the mantle that Ruskell has left behind, and Dominik assumed his new position approximately two weeks ago. In addition, Seth Turner, who previously served as an intern in the Bucs' pro scouting department, has been hired as the team's national combine scout. (Additional information on Webster and Turner can be found at the bottom of this article.)
Whereas Ruskell's primary duty as director of college scouting was to oversee the entire draft-preparation effort, he now will direct Webster in those efforts and also become a direct roster architect through free agency and trades.
"I'll still be concentrating on college players and the draft, but I will now have to divide my day with the pro side of the ball," said Ruskell. "That's something I'll have to become more well-versed in, so I'll have to concentrate on that a little more than I have in the past, obviously. I'll be working more directly with Rich McKay and the pro side of the game."
Angelo's long-overdue crack in the general manager realm finally surfaced, it seems clear, as a result of the turnaround of the Tampa Bay franchise since 1996. As the Bucs have transformed from perennial league doormats to annual playoff favorites, Angelo began to be linked with a succession of personnel jobs around the league. The team's strong drafts and resulting success on the field reflected well on all of the Bucs' coaches and personnel men, but Ruskell was not often in the direct light. Angelo, however, knows that his right-hand man was a key figure in the Bucs' about-face.
"Without question, Tim is one of the best-kept secrets in football," said Angelo. "His intelligence and common sense approach to personnel evaluation is exceptional."
Of course, having come aboard together in 1987, Ruskell and Angelo endured some of the Bucs' lean years with the rest of the area. Though Angelo has moved on, the lessons gained during the Bucs' transformation will remain with the team through Ruskell.
"I was very fortunate to be able to work with Jerry Angelo for the last 15 years," said Ruskell. "He's been my mentor, and a guy with whom I've gone through some good times and some tough times. We learned some by mistakes, we learned some by just working hard and we learned some by our intuition and instincts. This is a chance to put all of that together and help this football team maintain the level of excellence we've achieved now, and get even better."
Ruskell first joined the Buccaneers as a regional scout in 1987 before being promoted to director of college scouting in 1992. In that role, he coordinated a staff of five regional scouts and oversaw the compilation of information on college players. During his tenure, the Buccaneers had at least one player named to the Pro Bowl in each of the last five seasons from 1996-2000. Tampa Bay boasted a league-high and club-record nine Pro Bowlers last season, including a league-best six starters. Since 1996, Tampa Bay has had 15 different players go to at least one Pro Bowl. In addition, the Buccaneers 29 Pro Bowl selections since 1996 is tied for the most in the NFC and second-best in the NFL.
Prior to joining the Buccaneers, Ruskell served as the director of scouting for the USFL's Tampa Bay Bandits from 1985-86. He also worked as a scout for the CFL's Saskatchewan Roughriders from 1983-85. Ruskell was hired in Saskatchewan by then-general manager John Herrera, who had previously been a scout for the Buccaneers.
In addition, Ruskell has spent each of the last six years as a member of the NFL's selection committee for the National Combine Invitational Camp.
Ruskell attended the University of South Florida and earned his bachelor's degree in journalism in 1978. While a student at USF, he worked for the Buccaneers during their inaugural training camp in 1976 and also did research projects for the team's scouting department. In addition, Ruskell served as the student chairman for the original committee to bring football to the University of South Florida.
Ruskell was born in Yokohama, Japan, where his father was stationed in the Army. The family eventually relocated to Tampa, and Ruskell graduated from King High School. Tim and his wife, Linda, live in Lutz with their daughter Samantha and son Jack.
Ruston Webster enters his first season as Tampa Bay's director of college scouting after serving in several different capacities in his first 13 seasons with the Buccaneers. Webster coordinates a staff of five regional scouts and oversees the compilation of information on college players.
Webster joined the Buccaneers in 1988 as the team's scout for the northeastern United States. From 1989-91, he served as the club's director of pro personnel. In 1992, he returned to the field as Tampa Bay's scout for the southern states and shifted to the Midwest region in 1993 and the southwest region from 1995-2000.
Before joining the Buccaneers, Webster was the tight ends/safeties coach at Tulsa University in 1987. In 1986, he was a graduate assistant at Alabama under former Buccaneer head coach Ray Perkins. Webster also served as a graduate assistant at Southwestern Louisiana in 1985.
Webster earned his bachelor's degree in health, physical education and recreation from the University of Mississippi. A native of Madison, Mississippi, he and his wife, Gayle, reside in Tampa with daughter Hannah and son Jacob.
Seth Turner begins his first season as Tampa Bay's national combine scout. Turner will serve as a scout for the southeastern United States, as well as Tampa Bay's scout for the annual NFL combine.
Turner joined the Buccaneers in July of 2000 as an intern in the college and pro scouting department. In that role, he assisted in the evaluation of professional free agents and draft-eligible college players. He also served as one of Tampa Bay's representatives at the 2001 NFL Draft.
Prior to joining the Buccaneers, Turner was an intern for the NFL's player personnel department, as well as a summer intern for the Buffalo Bills' player personnel staff in 1999.
Turner graduated with a B.S. in physical education from Baker University in Kansas in 1997 and then earned a master's in sport management in 1999 from Indiana State. He was a four-year letterman at linebacker and defensive end at Baker, garnering third-team all-conference honors in 1996 as a senior.
Turner, a native of Lansing, Kansas, lives in Tampa with his fiancé, Ariana.