Viking turned Trojan


Football star Jabari Ruffin, 12, signs his Letter of Intent for USC on February 1. Upon graduation the Viking would make his transition from the Allen Layne Stadium to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to begin his college career as a Trojan.

Julia Ruiz, Sports Editor

The dream becomes a reality for football star Jabari Ruffin as his commitment to the University of Southern California reaches its closing stages.  USC first noticed the young linebacker’s talent on the football field in March 2011. Almost a year later, the Viking athlete signed his Letter of Intent on Wednesday, Feb. 1, slowly making his transition from Viking to Trojan.

“I was surprised when I first heard USC was interested in me,” Ruffin said. “It’s a dream school and [their recognition] means a lot because many don’t get the opportunity to play with them.”

After picking up a football at the age of eight, Ruffin fell in love with the American game. His passion and capacity has recently driven him to captain the West team for the U.S.  Army All-American Bowl, featuring all-star football players from across the nation.

“The coaches choose the captain,” the future Trojan said. “I didn’t really know what to expect. I just went out there and played.”

The effort Ruffin shows on the field caught the eye of various top football universities, including the University of Alabama, Boise State University, and the University of Washington.  However, once USC offered the Viking a scholarship, he did not think about it twice.

“There is no other college I would want to go to,” the linebacker said. “Being from Southern California, I’m really happy to go to USC. I like their tradition and the great players that came from there.”

Having committed to USC just after his junior season ended, the last season of Ruffin’s high school career was crucial.  The young athlete was to keep up his performance on and off the field.

“I believe Jabari felt some pressure [this last season] not only on the football field but in the classroom,” varsity football coach Jack Williams said. “His childhood dream was to always go to USC to play football and now that dream has become a reality.”

Ruffin’s success has spread like wildfire in the Viking community. Coaches, teachers, and counselors have guided him throughout his last four years.

“I am very excited for him, because it’s an opportunity that is not always offered to many students,” Ruffin’s counselor Jayro Roman said. “I hope he takes advantage of it. I know his hard work will take him far.”

The Viking all-star has already met with USC coaches, including Coach Pola and Head Coach Lane Kiffin. Their support in the young linebacker is evident, after a last-minute meeting lead to a scholarship offer.  They expect much from Rivals’ number forty state-ranked athlete; however, Coach Williams is confident Ruffin’s talent will make him a starter early in his college football career.

“I do believe at one point early on he will end up becoming a starter and will not look back. Jabari strives to be the best at whatever he does and will do whatever it takes to get himself there,” Williams said. “I am confident he will continue to develop goals for himself on and off the field for him to be successful.”

From a young boy who struggled to get noticed his first two years of high school, to a young man who’s hard work brought him offers from prestigious universities, Jabari Ruffin’s achievements throughout his last four years foreshadow his potential success as a USC Trojan.