Wednesday, December 06, 2000
UC's Ruffin named nation's top place-kicker
Sophomore wins Lou Groza Award
By John Erardi
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Fourteen months ago, as a freshman, he couldn't make a kick. Tuesday night, Jonathan Ruffin won the Lou Groza Award as the nation's top college place-kicker.
In the closest voting ever for the award, only two votes separated the University of Cincinnati sophomore from third place.
It was heady stuff for Ruffin, UC's first consensus All-American, and the bowl-bound Bearcats. To be a consensus All-American, a player must be named on three or more of the six major All-American teams. Ruffin already has been named to the Football Writers, Walter Camp and The Sporting News.
Ruffin was 26-of-29 on field goals this season.
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Jonathan Ruffin (16) is congratulated by Joe Harrison (38) after kicking winning field goal against Southern Miss.
At his lowest point Game 4 of 1999, a 23-20 loss at Houston Ruffin missed two field goals and had an extra point blocked.
Everything hit me all at once, Ruffin said. After that, nobody believed I could make a kick, and I didn't either.
He began '99 4-of-5 on field goals, then made only one of his last seven. UC coach Rick Minter even signed a junior-college place-kicker, Victor DiMauro, before this season but wound up red-shirting him when Minter saw how Ruffin had straightened himself out.
Ruffin knew from the time of spring camp he was going to have a solid sophomore year. When he hit three field goals in UC's opening-game victory over Army, 23-17, his confidence rocketed.
That's the difference confidence, Ruffin said. I never thought I wouldn't have a good college career. I dreamed of being an All-American someday. But at no point last year after the Houston game did the thought ever cross my mind.
The Bearcats are Motor City Bowl-bound, and Ruffin was named UC's MVP.
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