It doesn't take much to realize that Henry Ruggs is a special prospect upon watching him in person. Even in a losing effort Friday night at Phenix City (Ala.) Central, the four-star wide receiver projection accounted for 260 total yards and a pair of long scores despite having the defense's attention before every snap.
One of the defenders trying to slow him was four-star Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker commitment Markail Benton, who has known of the senior's talent for some time. It has led to a consistent recruiting pitch from one in-state blue-chip to another.
Before the game and for a large portion of it, a 52-29 Red Devil triumph, Ruggs sported an Auburn towel to represent one of his top five programs of choice at this time. 'Bama, Florida, Florida State and Penn State make up the current group. But Benton obviously wants him to stay in-state like he has elected to.
"I've been trying to recruiting him from home, since I've been through it," he said. "He's a great guy, as you can tell tonight he came out to play ball. There were times in the game where he had big breaks...
"After the game, you know he had on an Auburn towel. After the game I gave him my towel, took the Auburn towel and threw it in the trash can. I promise you, if you go look you'll see it in there. He's a great ball player that I would like to have at Alabama with us."
Ruggs isn't the only prospect on Benton's radar at this time, either.
"Other ball players that's in the state, that I see can help the team perform well, I just I do what the coaches ask me to do," he said.
In the meantime, as perhaps one would expect, the senior hasn't considered other programs since making the UA pledge in June. He isn't forecasting a change going forward and says he won't be on another campus for the duration of his recruitment.
"Basically when I committed I wanted to shut it down," Benton said. "Shut my recruitment down and focus on school work and focus on trying to win a state championship."
Looking to take an official visit to Alabama following the 2016 campaign, his current focus remains on the Central program which is again headed back to the Class 7A state playoffs. The team's latest win came on senior night.
"It feels great, tonight was senior night and we had a great night," he said. "You could say we basically won the region tonight, it feels good to get that done."
A bit lighter on the hoof at 231 pounds, Benton says he's playing faster than ever. The Under Armour All-America Game selection will also play in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game after the completion of his senior season.