The big summer project is a countdown of the top 30 Bearcats of modern times, ie I watched them play. Baseball players, volleyball stars, tennis, golf, these sports were ignored. Volleyball wouldn't be if I remember the name of one girl from the volleyball games I worked. But they aren't here to be found. What is on the list are the 30 players that I think describe the Cincinnati Bearcats. If someone asked you who was a great Cincinnati Bearcat or who defined what it's like to be a Bearcat, I would say look at this list. God, I'm a shill for myself. It's like get over it and get to the list already, guy. Let's.
Jonathan Ruffin is one of the few Bearcat football players in the ring of honor around Nippert Stadium. He was a true force for the Bearcats in their rise up the ranks in Conference USA.
Ruffin had a rough freshman season, but his sophomore season made Cincinnati history. Ruffin hit 26-29 field goals, 89.7%, and 26-27 extra points for a 104 point season. He was first in C-USA in points that season and 10th in the NCAA. Ruffin was 1st in the NCAA in field goals made and second in FGs attempted. His 89.7% was 5th in the NCAA and was first in the conference. Ruffin hit a field goal in every game, including 2 games with 4. For his excellence, Jonathan was a consensus All-American. Ruffin was the first Bearcat in 23 years to receive the honor. He was an AP, Walter Camp, FWAA, TSN and SI All-American as well. Ruffin won the ultimate kicking honor, the Lou Groza award. He's the only Bearcat to win the award.
2001 was a bit of a down season for Jonathan. He was a perfect 36-36 on extra points, but had just 16 field goal chances. He made 12 of those. He had 72 points, 6th in C-USA. He made the 4th most extra points in the league. He was 5th in field goals made and 3rd in making 75%.
Ruffin bounced back big time his senior season. He knocked home 19-22 field goals, 86.4%, and made 44-46 extra points for a 101 point season. Ruffin was 4th in C-USA in points. He was first in extra points made and attempted. He was 3rd in the league in field goals made and 4th in field goals attempted. Ruffin's 86.4% success rate was 1st in C-USA and 8th in the NCAA.
Jonathan Ruffin is the Bearcats leader in scoring for a career. On and off the field. You didn't hear that from me, Mrs Ruffin. His 315 points is a lofty bar for any future player. Ruffin holds the record for field goals made at 62. Ruffin was All C-USA for his last 3 seasons. From the available stats from 2000-11, Ruffin is the Conference USA leader in field goal percentage at 85.1%. He's still 4th all time with 57 made field goals. He's 12th in scoring.
Why He Made the List
Jonathan Ruffin makes the list because he was a consistenly great player for Cincinnati. Kickers are players that are either loved or hated. If he's making kicks, he's the best guy to have around. When he's missing kicks, he's a fan's worst nightmare. Jonathan Ruffin was a dream. He earned the nickname "Mr Automatic" from Matt at DTD. Ruffin was the best kicker in the history of the program. In years when the Bearcats from 3-8 to 3 straight bowl games, Ruffin was a steady force. The rudder of the ship, if you will. And I will.
Jonathan Ruffin isn't exactly the first name you think of when you think Cincinnati Bearcats. When you think of excellent Bearcats with great careers, Ruffin jumps out at you. You don't get your number retired because you are a bum. Jonathan Ruffin makes the list for that very reason.
What He's Doing Now
Jonathan currently is a kicking instructor at the Ray Guy Kicking Academy. He never had an NFL career, but did play a year in NFL Europe and a year in the AFL. His birthday is on August 1. Washington Redskins kicker Graham Gano credits Ruffin for helping him get his fundamentals straight. Gano won the Groza award with Florida State in 2008.