Rudy Voss, who embraced Jackrabbits football dream, now stands aside

Former JCC sports star Rudy Voss retires from SDSU football for medical reasons

South Dakota State University walk-on quarterback Rudy Voss, who starred at Jackson County Central High School, has announced his college retirement due to a nagging lower-back injury.
South Dakota State University walk-on quarterback Rudy Voss, who starred at Jackson County Central High School, has announced his college retirement due to a nagging lower-back injury.
(Photo by Dave Eggen/Inertia)

Former Jackson County Central star athlete Rudy Voss, the backup quarterback at FCS national champion South Dakota State, has announced his retirement for medical reasons.

Voss, who joined the Jackrabbit football team as a preferred walk-on before earning a scholarship and rising to second on the depth chart, has been dealing with a lower-back injury.

He said the discomfort started last June.

“In July it got to the point where I couldn’t even bend over to put my socks on because there was so much pain,” he said.

The injury improved, and Voss was on the active roster when the season began. The redshirt junior got into the game briefly at Iowa against one of the nation’s finest defenses on Sept. 3.


“That was a really fun experience,” Voss said. “But the third game at home (against Butler) I got absolutely destroyed on a hit and landed with all the weight on my lower back. Ever since then it just never got back to normal.”

BROOKINGS, SD - OCTOBER 31: xxxxxxxxxxx at the Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium on October 31, 2020 in Brookings, South Dakota.
Rudy Voss displays his passing form at South Dakota State University.
(Photo by Dave Eggen/Inertia)

He was in uniform when the Jackrabbits won the Football Championship Series national championship with a victory over North Dakota State earlier this month in Frisco, Texas. But last week Monday, Voss put out a statement on Twitter announcing his retirement from the sport.

He said MRIs have indicated problems with fractured vertebrae and pinched nerves in his lower back.

“The last few weeks the pain has started to run down my legs and I was just physically to the point where I couldn’t do it,” Voss said. “If I can’t give 100% to something, I’m not going to do it at all.”

Surgery has been suggested to fuse vertebrae together.

“I don’t want to do that right now at 21 years old. I feel like I’m too young to be having back surgery,” he said. “So I just made the decision that I would step away.”

Matt Zimmer, a longtime Jackrabbit beat writer for the Sioux Falls Argus Leader who now works for Forum Communications at, reacted to the news on Twitter earlier last week:

“Man, this is a bummer. Rudy is a hell of an athlete and a great teammate.”


Voss, a 6-foot-3, 215-pounder, was a decorated athlete at Jackson County Central. He set school records in football for career passing yards (4,537) and touchdown tosses (49), leading the Huskies to the Prep Bowl his senior year.

Voss was also highly successful in basketball. He averaged about 30 points per game as a senior and finished his JCC career with a school-record 2,108 points. The Huskies earned a state-tourney berth in 2020, but the event was canceled because of the Covid pandemic.

Voss was a multiple Worthington Globe All-Area selection in both sports. He had many small-school scholarship offers, and ultimately chose to walk-on at SDSU.

He quickly proved himself. In the 2021 season he played in seven games and rushed for 95 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown against Youngstown State.

Voss performed especially well when given the opportunity during spring practice.

“I accomplished everything I wanted to and more, except getting to start and show people what I could do,” said Voss, who played behind SDSU star quarterback Mark Gronowski.

“Mark is probably the best quarterback to play here, when it’s all said and done,” Voss said. “I’m so happy for him and I’m thankful to know him.

“I wouldn’t change anything. I came in as a walk-on, on the fifth string, and by the second year I was a backup and by the end of that year I was on scholarship. I worked my way up and formed relationships I’ll have for life.”


He paused a moment.

“I have respect from everyone on the team, which means more to me than playing,” he said.

Voss’s sister, Sadie, just finished an outstanding first season on the University of Sioux Falls volleyball team. She earned all-NSIC second-team honors and was named the league’s Freshman of the Year.

A young brother, Roman Voss, is a talented freshman athlete at Jackson County Central who has already earned much acclaim for his abilities in both football and basketball.

But the sports career of Rudy Voss appears to be over.

“You never know,” he said. “Backs are up and down. As of right now I’m done for good, but if God wills that I heal and another door opens, who knows? But right now this is the right decision for me.”

Voss is about a year-and-a-half away from earning a degree in Agricultural Science. In his Twitter statement, Voss displayed gratitude. The Tweet reads, in part:

“I want to say thank you to everyone that supported me throughout my career, especially Mom (Tricia), Dad (Rod), and my high school coaches (Tom) Schuller and Uncle Wade (Wacker).”


Voss also thanked his SDSU coaches.

Former Jackrabbit head coach John Stiegelmeier, who retired after his team won the national title, responded on Twitter thusly:

“A true Winner. Love this guy.”

Scott Mansch, who in a crowded Viking tavern has been known to say “Go Pack Go” at times in complete disregard for his health, can be reached at
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