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August 15, 2011During the recruiting process, Asian Ruff picked up several scholarship offers and was considered one of the top safety prospects from Mississippi in 2009.
But as the former three-star prospect wrestled with which university he would like to attend, those schools recruiting classes were filling up leaving Ruff with only a scholarship to Itawamba Community College on the table national signing day.
Ruff went ahead and inked with the Indians but decided to call one of the schools that had offered him initially about the opportunity to walk-on.
"On signing day I signed with ICC and as soon as I got through signing the paper I walked out and talked to my mom," Ruff said. "I told her I'd worked too hard to go to a JUCO. There isn't anything bad about JUCO but I've worked too hard to do that. I thought about it and thought I had a chance to go to Mississippi State. I talked to Coach (Tony) Hughes and he let me have this chance to come out and do the best that I could do out here."
Ruff practiced his first season with the Bulldogs as a redshirt and gaining knowledge from some of the starters at safety.
"It helped me a whole lot because I knew I wouldn't have been ready to go out there," Ruff said. "It's a whole lot faster than high school or any other division. The SEC is like the pros of college. Just having good people around you, teaching you, you learn faster - especially guys like Charles Mitchell, Nickoe Whitley and Wade Bonner."
The extra year also helped Ruff add 10-pounds to his long, thin frame and now tips the scales at 180-pounds. He stated that his ideal playing weight around 185.
"It's kind of hard (to gain weight) but some days it's easy," Ruff said. "Some days I just eat and eat but sometimes I just don't feel like eating."
Ruff helped lead Itawamba AHS to the Class 4A North State title game as a senior starring on both sides of the ball being ranked as the No. 25 prospect in Mississippi. He was selected to play in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic where he snagged one interception and returned it for 17 yards.
That would mark the last game that Ruff has played in to date but hopes to see the field this fall as a redshirt freshman at State following a strong summer.
"The summer went real good," Ruff said. "I got stronger, got a little bigger, got faster, learned the plays and started falling behind Charles and them. They showed me the steps to get better every day. We did conditioning together and got bigger and stronger together."
While Ruff's position coach remains the same the defensive intensity has been taken up a notch under new coordinators Chris Wilson and Geoff Collins.
"They expect a whole lot more out of us," Ruff said. "They want us to be more physical, be tougher, don't show weakness - just run to the ball and be fast."
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