St. Louis, Mo. - Youngstown State redshirt freshman free safety Jameel Smith was named the Missouri Valley Football Conference Defensive Player of the Week while Martin Ruiz was named the conference's top newcomer, the league announced on Sunday.
Smith returned an interception 95 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter of the Penguins' 35-24 win at Indiana State. Smith's INT return tied for the second-longest in school history. YSU led 7-3 at the time of Smith's pick before he returned it up the sideline, followed some blocks and had some nifty moves for the score. Smith finished the game with six total tackles.
Ruiz led the Penguins' ground attack with a career-high 141 yards on 23 carries and scored three touchdowns in a win at Indiana State. He had scoring runs of 44 (on YSU's first offensive play from scrimmage), 13 and six in the win.
Ruiz had 65 yards on just six carries in the first half before helping the Penguins churn out the win with 17 carries in the second half. YSU has won five straight conference games dating back to last year and is off to its first 2-0 start since 2006. Ruiz now has 10 rushing TDs on the year.
It is the second time this year that Ruiz was named the conference's newcomer of the week.
The Penguins (5-1 overall and 2-0 in the MVFC) return hom this Saturday to take on Illinois State. Kickoff at Stambaugh Stadium is set for 7 p.m.