Two years ago David Ruffer was catching passes for Siegfried Hall. Monday the senior place kicker who has hit all 20 field goals he’s attempted over the last two years was named a finalist for the Lou Groza Award as one of the nation’s top three place kickers.
Ruffer transferred to Notre Dame from William and Mary following the 2007-2008 school year after not playing football in high school. Once at Notre Dame Ruffer joined the Siegfried Hall interhall team as a wide receiver and place kicker. Notre Dame’s kicking woes in 2008 prompted a campus try out for which Ruffer tried out.
Since taking over for Nick Tausch last season after Tausch was injured in pregame warm-ups prior to the Pitt game, Ruffer has been about as consistent as any kicker in Notre Dame history. In three games last season, Ruffer connected on all 5 of his field goal attempts.
Heading into the 2010 season Ruffer and Tausch were in a heated battle for the place kicking duties. Ruffer edged Tausch in fall camp and since then has done everything he could have to validate Brian Kelly’s decision. Through 11 games Ruffer remains a perfect 15 for 15 on field goal attempts this season including four kicks 45 yards or longer and a a career long 50 yarder against Pittsburgh.
If there is anything that will prevent Ruffer from taking home the hardware at the Home Depot Awards next month, it’s the volume of Ruffer’s work. While he is a perfect 15 for 15 on field goals, the other finalists – Oklahoma State’s Dan Bailey and SMU’s Danny Hrapmann – have attempted more kicks than Ruffer. Danny Hrapmann is 23 for 26 on field goal attempts and a perfect 46 for 46 on extra points. Bailey meanwhile is 22 for 26 on field goals and 60 for 61 on extra points.
Ruffer has one game to improve on his stats, and a big game against USC would certainly help his cause.
It’s been a long time since Notre Dame has enjoyed the kind of certainty in the kicking department that Ruffer has delivered to the Irish this season. With another season of eligibility remaining, Notre Dame fans should be able to breathe easy again next year when the Irish line up for field goals.
Nick Tausch was a semi finalist for the Groza Award last season while Brandon Walker, the player Tausch beat out for the place kicking duties for the 2009 season, started last season on the Groza Watch list.