AUBURN, Ala. — Coming out of high school, Nick Ruffin was deemed a consensus four-star prospect at cornerback. And in his senior season at St. Pius X in Atlanta, he took a majority of his reps defensively at safety.
But since getting to Auburn, the true freshman has yet to take a snap at either position. Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson said Thursday that Ruffin has been moved to Star, the Tigers' hybrid linebacker/safety spot.
"I think he’s starting to feel comfortable there and we just don’t want to move him too quick," Johnson said after Thursday's practice. "We’re really pleased with where Nick is right now."
Johnson said Ruffin's skill-set compares favorably with Robenson Therezie, who had a team-high four interceptions last year. Put simply, Johnson said Ruffin is just "a natural DB." With Therezie and Justin Garrett splitting the first-team reps at Star, Ruffin has been left to fight sophomore Mackenro Alexander for the remaining snaps.
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The area of Ruffin's game that needs the most work is clear, Johnson said.
"The biggest thing he’s had to improve on right now is the big receivers stalk blocking him out in space or coming off the edge and having to take on a running back on a blitz or an outside run play when a big blocker gets out on the edge," the coach said. "That’s the thing he has to get better at, which Therezie did too. He’s kind of got DB skill-sets and he’s looked very comfortable out there."