Rated a four-star prospect and the number 14 cornerback prospect in the country, according to Scout.com, speedy Nick Ruffin has made two trips to Auburn already this spring and will be making his third this weekend to take part in Big Cat Weekend. One of several dozen prospects expected in for Gus Malzahn's first foray into Big Cat Weekend as a head coach with the Tigers, Ruffin says he's looking forward to being back in Auburn.
"Yes sir, I will be there," Ruffin tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "I'm very excited because it's one of those times when you get to see a lot of our friends and recruits that you have met and have become close friends with. You get a better feel for the campus."
With offers from just about every top program in the country including Auburn, Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Ohio State, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Wisconsin, Ruffin will be able to choose the perfect fit for him. While he says he's not planning on making a decision anytime soon, the 6-0, 170-pounder adds that there is no question in his mind he'll be visiting his favorite school this weekend.
"Auburn would definitely be my number one right now," Ruffin says. "My mom asked me this morning if I planned on committing this weekend. I'm not really sure. I want to continue to take my time, but if I come to a conclusion where I just can't deny that this is where I want to be then I'll make my decision then.
"It will be an informed decision," he adds. "I will continue to take my time. I don't plan on committing this weekend at all, but this could be a decision-maker. It could be something that plays into it."
One of the reasons Auburn has moved to the top of the list for Ruffin is what he saw and felt when he made the trip over for the A-Day game in April. Seeing a packed stadium even though the Tigers won just three games last season, the defensive back says for him it showed the passion and love for Auburn from the fans.
"It really showed the fan dedication and the support they have behind their players," he says. "To come off a terrible season like Auburn did and still have 83,000, that shows the excitement, the expectation, the tradition, and the history that fan base high behind their team. That's something that really stood out to me. When I walked in and saw that many people I was really taken aback and blown away by the whole experience itself.
"I hold Auburn in very high regard," Ruffin adds. "When I came on a visit I pretty much fell in love with it. It's a beautiful and amazing place to be. As far as the staff goes they are a group of very spiritual, respectable, upright men. They are very well respected around the country. I wouldn't mind playing for them."
Already with commitments on the defensive side of the ball from four-star prospects Tre Williams, Justin Thornton and Derrick Moncrief as well as talented linebacker DeShaun Davis from Mobile, Auburn's class is starting to take shape with nine months left until national signing day in 2014. It's something that Ruffin says has caught his eye about the Tigers already in recruiting to this point.
"It's huge because I know that's where they struggled a lot last year was on the defensive side of the ball," Ruffin says. "That speaks volumes for guys like DeShaun Davis and Justin Thornton to see something in Auburn. That sticks out to you because they are big-time guys and they see that and I'm kind of seeing it too. What happens if all of us get together?"
In addition to Auburn, Ruffin says his top schools at the moment are Georgia, Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Alabama, but it's not a final list for him and he plans to keep exploring his options until making a decision.
Signing just one cornerback in last year's class and with two seniors on this year's roster at the position, Auburn is looking for immediate help for Coach Melvin Smith. The opportunity to play as a freshman is something that Ruffin says he's paying close attention to during the recruiting process, but he also understands he's going to have to work for everything he gets on the next level.
"It's very important for me to be able to play early," Ruffin says. "I don't want to sign a scholarship just to sit on the bench, I don't think any of us do. At the same time I want competition. I don't want to go to a team where I know I will be starting because that induces lackluster effort. I want to go to a team where I know I'll have to work my butt off in order to have a chance to start. That's why I'm intrigued by Auburn because I know they're not just going to give me a spot."