“Due to a student-conduct issue, Jabari Ruffin has been suspended from our team activities and I cannot go into details about it,” Helton said. “Don't have a crystal ball on if and when he can return.”
Coming into the season, the redshirt senior was expected to be the primary backup to Porter Gustin and Uchenna Nwosu at the outside linebacker positions, especially after the suspension and eventual dismissal of Don Hill. Instead, Ruffin has played only eight snaps on defense.
Those eight snaps came last game against Arizona where Ruffin made a tackle for loss on one snap and nearly missed a sack on another. It is possible that performance could have led to additional defensive playing time going forward.
Ruffin’s real value has been on special teams where he has been a stalwart capable of delivering a big blow throughout his career. He has been on the kickoff, kickoff return, punt return, extra-point defense and field goal block units at various times this year for USC. His two tackles this season give him 35 career tackles with a sack and two forced fumbles.
He was ejected from the season opener after stomping on the groin area of an Alabama player and forced to miss the first half of the next game against Utah State. Helton said Ruffin also had to write an apology letter for his actions.
“Jabari is a good kid that made a poor, emotional decision,” Helton said at the time on the TrojansLive radio show. “He understands that his conduct is unbecoming of a Trojan, and there will be zero tolerance moving forward.”
Ruffin has played in six games this season, missing the Colorado game after sustaining a concussion on the opening kickoff against Arizona State.
With Ruffin suspended, USC now only has three scholarship backups for the Predator and SAM outside linebacker position. Junior Olajuwon Tucker moved to outside linebacker last month and freshmen Connor Murphy and Oluwole Betiku have been getting tossed into the rotation little by little.
The position has been decimated by suspensions. Ruffin is the third outside linebacker forced to sit because of off-the-field issues, joining Hill and Scott Felix, who was suspended for the year in the offseason.
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