Hatboro, Pa. - Youngstown State freshman tailback Martin Ruiz (Tampa, Fla.) has gained national notice for his solid first half of the season being named to the Jerry Rice Award Watch List on Wednesday. The award goes to the FCS's top freshman.
In six games this year, Ruiz has rushed for 491 yards on 88 carries with 10 rushing touchdowns. He has caught nine passes for 110 yards and a touchdown. He leads the Penguins with 11 touchdowns, 66 points and has 658 all-purpose yards for the campaign.
The Sports Network announced its initial 20-player watch list for the 2013 Rice Award. Named for the legendary wide receiver, who played in the FCS at Mississippi Valley State, the Rice Award will be voted on by a national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries following the regular season.
The initial position breakdown is five quarterbacks, five linebackers, three running backs, two wide receivers, two defensive ends, one cornerback, one safety and one punter.
Ruiz has been a steady contributor since making his YSU debut late in the second quarter of the season opener at Dayton. Against the Flyers, he had 11 rushes for 45 yards and a touchdown.
Against Morehead State, he had 117 yards on six carries and scored two touchdowns.
At Michigan State, he scored twice, including the first receiving touchdown of his career. Against the Spartans, he had 36 yards rushing on 11 carries and caught four passes for 57 yards.
He scored three touchdowns for the first time of his career in a 59-17 win over Duquesne. He had 17 rushes for 65 yards and three scores.
In his MVFC debut at Southern Illinois, he had 144 all-purpose yards in the come-from-behind victory. He ran 20 times for 87 yards and caught three passes for 50 yards. He was named the Missouri Valley Football Confernce's Freshman of the Week.
At Indiana State, Ruiz had three rushing scores on a career-best 23 carries and had a career-high 141 yards in his first career start. Ruiz scored on a 44-yard run on the first carry of the game and the Penguins never trailed. For the second straight week he was named the conference's freshman of the week.
The Penguins return home this Saturday to play host to Illinois State. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Stambaugh Stadium.