St. Louis, Mo. - Youngstown State freshman tailback Martin Ruiz (Tampa, Fla.) was named the Missouri Valley Football Conference's Freshman and Newcomer of the Year, the league announced on Wednesday. He is the first Penguin to receive both honors in the same season.
In the Newcomer of the Year voting, Ruiz received 62 points to finish ahead of Western Illinois' J.C. Baker (43). In the Freshmen of the Year balloting, Ruiz had 78 points while the second-place finisher was Indiana State's Jameer Thurman with 23.
In his first year, Ruiz had one of the best campaigns by a freshman running back in school history. He set school freshman bests with 192 carries, 1,094 yards and 15 touchdowns.
He is the fourth YSU player to be named Newcomer of the Year joining Marcus Mason (2005), Ferlando Williams (2007) and Brandon Summers (2008). He is also the third freshman along with Kurt Hess (2010) and Kamryn Keys (2008) to earn that accolade.
Ruiz was one of two FCS freshmen to eclipse 1,000 yards this season and his 1,094 yards ranks as the second most by a frosh in conference history behind Indiana State David Wright's total of 1,313 in 1982. North Carolina A&T's Tarik Cohen led all FCS freshman this season with 1,148 rushing yards.
In eight MVFC contests, he rushed for 831 yards on 147 attempts and scored eight rushing touchdowns. He averaged 103.9 yards per game, second behind South Dakota State's Zach Zenner.
The Penguins concluded the 2013 season with an 8-4 overall record and were 5-3 in the MVFC finishing in a tie for second place.
Ruiz is in the hunt for The Jerry Rice Award which honors the nation's top FCS freshman. Voting for the award is this week and the winner will be announced in December.
North Dakota State quarterback Brock Jensen was named the MVFC Offensive Player of the Year and South Dakota linebacker Tyler Starr was tabbed the Defensive Player of the Year and NDSU Head Coach Craig Bohl was named Coach of the Year.