As we continue our march to kickoff, we take a look at the top 100 recruits to sign with Auburn of all-time*. The rankings are based on 247’s composite recruit rankings, which unfortunately only date back to 2000.
Ruffin was a big time defensive back recruit in the 2014 class. Ruffin was an early commit to the Tigers, giving his verbal during Gus’s first Big Cat Weekend as a head coach in May of 2013. The 4* out of St. Pius X in Atlanta earned a reputation for his all around athleticism, playing both corner and safety on defense and running back and receiver on offense.
Nick Ruffin earned playing time immediately as a freshman, playing in 11 of the team’s 13 games as a backup safety and special teams player. As a sophomore, he was skipped over by transfer Tray Matthews at safety, though he still saw a decent amount of snaps as a rotation guy in the secondary. He also picked up his first start in week 2 against Jacksonville State, as Matthews had injured his shoulder in the Louisville game. Ruffin totaled 27 tackles and 4 pass breakups in his sophomore season.
In the spring of 2016, Ruffin was being watched as someone who may just take over the world, but luckily football kept him occupied by the time the fall came around. Ruffin had the most productive year of his career as a junior, tallying 32 tackles while backing up Tray Matthews again. His role was the same in 2017, when he continued to back up Matthews as Stephen Roberts stepped into the other starting safety role vacated by Rudy Ford. His shining moment came against Texas A&M, when he blocked a punt to give the Tigers a lead in the waning seconds of the first half.
While it may have been disappointing to not see such a highly ranked recruit grab a starting job, it’s not like those positions were easy to come by in a highly competitive Auburn defense. Despite a revolving door of defensive coordinators from 2014-2017, Auburn had a remarkably stable depth chart, particularly at safety. Ultimately, Ruffin was more often than not the bridesmaid but never the bride, contributing high quality depth but never picking up a consistent starting role.