Sophomore kicker Brandon Ruiz has proved so far in 2018 that he’s among the elites in college football.
When it comes to kicking field goals in college football, it’s nothing like the NFL. In the pros, kickers almost always hit on 70 percent of their field goals. Last year, only one team, the Los Angeles Chargers, finished the season with a sub-70 field goal percentage. On the flip side, nine different Power-5 college football programs hit on less than 60 percent of their field goals in 2017 — one of them, Vanderbilt, was even below 50 percent (42.9). Having said that, the Arizona State Sun Devils are one of the lucky ones since their kicker, Brandon Ruiz is proving to be one of the elite kickers in all of college football.
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Ruiz, who was named to the 2018 Lou Groza Award Watch List, has been perfect so far under first-year head coach Herm Edwards. After making 98 percent of his extra points in 2017, he’s hit all eight of his tries this year and all three of his field goal attempts.
Impressively, those numbers are just the tip of the iceberg.
In the case of Brandon Ruiz, you have to acknowledge the high-leverage positions he’s been put into in this year — specifically, in their game against No. 15 Michigan State. With the team struggling to get into the end zone against the Spartans, Edwards leaned on Ruiz for kicks of 24, 28, and 49 yards out. The first, which was also the longest, came with Arizona State down by six in the first quarter. A miss by Ruiz likely would have changed the outcome of the game. Instead, he shot life back into the Sun Devils by putting them on the board. His third field goal, though, was the biggest one: a 28-yard kick as time expired to complete the Sun Devils’ upset.
Now, the Arizona State football program is nationally ranked and becoming more relevant every single day.
Just 5-foot-10, the kicker from Gilbert, AZ has the ability to hit long-range field goals that few others would even try. Last year, he hit several 50-plus yard bombs as a freshman, yet he can go even further out if needed. On his Twitter account, Ruiz has videos of himself hitting a 64-yard and 78-yard field goal (what?!?).
Prior to this year, the Sporting News had Ruiz ranked as the fifth-best kicker in college football. After his performance in 2018, however, he’s gotta be near the top of the list, if not at the top.
Arizona State will play San Diego State in Week 3 on CBS Sports Network.