Jabari Ruffin got injured late in the summer and was unable to compete with some of the nation's top talent at The Opening in Beaverton, Ore., but the four-star linebacker from Downey, Calif., is back to full speed and now cannot wait for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
Ruffin, a 6-foot-4, 230-pound prospect, will get his chance to compete against many of those same players and he's definitely excited his chance to show off his skills. The Downey standout was presented with his Army game jersey during a ceremony at his high school on Friday.
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"It means a lot to me right now," Ruffin said. "I'm real blessed to be nominated with this award and it was one of my goals. It was one of the things I wanted to do before high school and it's a real honor and I'm really blessed and thankful that they wanted me in this game.
"I'm really looking forward to the competition because I'll be able to showcase my talent against the other top players across the country. I get to prove myself before I go to college and I'll have a lot of fun. I'll be able to travel to Texas and compete so it should be a really good experience."
Rated as the fourth-best outside linebacker and No. 52 prospect in the 2012 class by Rivals.com, Ruffin said he's really excited to compete against some of the nation's top players over a week in San Antonio. Getting the opportunity to experience all that the Army Bowl has to offer is something Ruffin has been really excited about for years. It has now become a reality.
"First of all, I'm excited because it's going to be a fun week of football and I'm going to be out of town," Ruffin said. "I got hurt in the summer and I wasn't able to compete against a lot of guys in the South and the East Coast so now that I'm healthy going into the game I'm really looking forward to it."
Ruffin committed to USC in March and pretty much said it was a no-brainer, that he's always wanted to play for the Trojans so once the offer came he decided to jump on it. USC was always his dream school and he hasn't given even the slightest indication that he's rethinking his decision. There will be other USC commits in San Antonio and Ruffin said that should be exciting to talk with them.
"Once I got the offer from SC I knew that's where I wanted to go and that's what I wanted," Ruffin said.
"I had no hesitation in committing. I'm really glad I did so early. It feels good. I play every Friday night with my high school team representing the Trojans and then I watch all their games on Saturday so it's been good. Every day I'm one day closer to being there."
There is a chance that Ruffin, along with fellow USC commit and close friend Scott Starr, could take some official visits. Starr has already visited Arizona State and Ruffin was supposed to be on that trip but decided at the last-minute not to go.
Arizona, Arizona State, Boise State, Colorado, Miami, Michigan, Oregon, Oregon State, San Diego State, UCLA and Washington are some of Ruffin's other offers. He was non-committal Friday on whether he still planned to take some trips and said he's only focused on finishing out his senior season at Downey. A decision on taking visits will come later.
"I'm just focused on finishing my senior year at Downey and being with my teammates and being with my family and then when I go to college it's all business," Ruffin said.
"I don't know about other visits. Right now I'm focused on my senior year and winning games with my team. After the season I don't know. That's not my main focus right now."