Florida State football coach Jimbo Fisher remembers the late Darryl Rudolph, the father of former Seminoles star receiver, Travis Rudolph, as being a hard-working, supportive parent whose children were his life.
“Just great family,” Fisher said today, hours before he was leaving to attend Thursday’s NFL draft in Philadelphia.
“Parents … mom, dad were involved in their kid’s life. They were at everything he did. They supported him. Just a typical, loving, close, very hard-working, blue-collar, just really good family. Raised him tremendously well. A lot of respect from him to them and them to him.
“Their kids were the focal point of their life.”
Darryl Rudolph was killed late Friday while doing handyman work in the backroom of Sugar Daddy’s Adult Cabaret in West Palm Beach. The incident occurred one week before Travis is expected to be selected in the NFL draft. Travis, who was raised in West Palm Beach and starred at Cardinal Newman High School, decided to skip his senior year at FSU and enter the draft after being the Noles’ most productive receiver over the last three years.
Darryl, 55, was struck in the back/neck area by a gunshot from an adjacent room that penetrated the wall. The gun, which law enforcement sources told The Post was a rifle, discharged when a coworker was moving the firearm off a shelf. Darryl was not a full-time employee of the club but was hired occasionally to do handyman jobs.
On Tuesday, Paul Senat, 36, of Lantana was arrested and charged with Darryl’s shooting death by Palm Beach County sheriff’s detectives.
Fisher was with Travis at an on-campus event in the Champions Club on Friday hours before the incident. Travis had left Tallahassee when Fisher attempted to contact him.
“At first you didn’t believe it,” said Fisher, who has spoken with Travis’ mom, Linda. “It was shock. Travis is ready to fulfill his dream (of being drafted). His dad is getting to watch him do it. I had to just sit down for a minute and say ‘Oh my God.’
“Then my thoughts went to him and his wife and everything else, Travis and the family.”
Fisher, who spent time in the Rudolph home when recruiting Travis, said the university is ready to support Travis in any way necessary.
“He’s part of our family and we’ll do everything we can to help,” Fisher said. “Travis is going to have a great career. He’s going to come back and finish his degree. Anything we can humanly do to help them and the family get through a tough time … anything they want us to do and anything we can do.”
Fisher says he is “heartbroken” not only by Darry’s death but the timing. Travis, 21, concludes his career seventh in school history with 153 receptions and eighth with 2,311 receiving yards after leading the Seminoles with 56 catches, 840 receiving yards and seven receiving touchdowns last season.
Rudolph was named second-team All-ACC in 2016 and was one of 11 recipients of the Extraordinary Sportsmanship award at the Musial Awards. Last summer, when visiting a Tallahassee middle school with his teammates, Rudolph spotted an autistic student who was eating alone and sat down and dined with the boy.
Rudolph, 6-foot, 189 pounds, is projected to be taken on the third day of draft, anywhere from the fifth to seventh round. He is ranked anywhere from the 30th to 40th best receiver in the draft.
Fisher believes scouts are putting too much emphasis on his 40 time (4.65) rather than his production.
“He can run the route tree, he has good size,” Fisher said. “He’s not a blazer, but he’s fast. And if you watch, he makes big plays.
“You go back and watch our film, there’s a lot of long touchdown throws and catches and runs after (the catch). Like he did against Florida this year. There’s a lot of plays like that.”
Travis scored on a 46-yard catch-and-run from Deondre Francois that gave FSU a 17-6 lead over the Gators, the 18th and final touchdown reception of his career. The Seminoles went on to a 31-13 victory.
Fisher also praised Travis’ downfield blocking skills and his intelligence.
“He’s a very multi-talented receiver because he can go in and out to catch the ball,” Fisher said. “He’s just a really good athlete and he understands. Travis is really smart.”
Rudolph’s agents sent an email to all NFL teams saying that, despite the tragedy, Rudolph remained intent on pursuing his pro football aspirations.