The562’s coverage of Long Beach Poly athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Poly alum Jayon Brown and PlayFair Sports Management.
The562’s coverage of Long Beach Poly athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by JuJu Smith-Schuster and the JuJu Foundation.
Long Beach Poly senior offensive lineman Tyson Ruffins had a special day at his high school last week, when he was joined by his family, teammates, and coaches in the Jackrabbits’ film room for the presentation of his All-American Bowl jersey. The game, formerly known as the US Army All-American Bowl, will take place in San Antonio on Jan. 17 and will be nationally televised on NBC.
Ruffins is the first Jackrabbit lineman who will play in an All-American game since Jurrell Casey, the five-time Pro Bowler who recently retired from the NFL.
“My mom is the one who told me I got invited, and it was really unbelievable,” said Ruffins. “It’s a big deal, it’s really exciting. I’m looking forward to seeing all these guys that I know are going to be big names in the future, to get to test my own abilities against these guys.”
Most players tend to look at these postseason televised bowl games as a fun vacation or experience, but the stakes could be quite high for Ruffins. The 6-2, 300-pound lineman has been a star for four years for Poly and holds several good scholarship offers, including from Georgia Tech and Idaho, as well as heavy interest from the service academies.
But Ruffins’ play has warranted scholarship offers from Pac-12 and other power-five schools that haven’t materialized. With a strong showing against highly-recruited opponents on national television after a month of NCAA schools shuffling their rosters due to the transfer portal, Ruffins could find himself sitting on even more attention and scholarship offers than he already is.
“I’m not satisfied with myself yet as a player, and this is a big step for my future as a football player,” said Ruffins. “I’m going to go show off my talents at these bowls and see how much better I can get.”
Ruffins was previously committed to playing in the Polynesian Bowl in Hawaii, which he will still be able to do since it takes place after the All-American Bowl, on Jan. 20 in Hawaii (that game will be televised on the NFL Network).
“We’re proud of Tyson and everything he did here, he was a model student-athlete and he has a very bright future,” said Poly coach Stephen Barbee.
Ruffins was a well-liked leader on the team, evident from the huge turnout of supporters to cheer for him as he did his jersey unboxing.
Junior quarterback Darius Curry was one of the loudest voices in the room, as the direct recipient of Ruffins’ gifts--Curry was rarely pressured or sacked during this season thanks in part to Ruffins locking down the edge of the line.
“He’s just someone I’ve seen put in all the work since I got here,” said Curry. “He always worked the hardest and it showed in the season. Seeing him be able to put that jersey on and take that step is special--that motivates me for next year to come out and be great. I’m proud of him.”
Ruffins is the second Jackrabbit to commit to play in a nationally-televised All-American game this season, with his co-captain Daylen Austin already committed to playing in the Under-Armour All-American Bowl before graduating and moving on to LSU.
Ruffins said he’s planning on continuing the recruitment process over the next couple of months and then make a decision after that.