MORE from our HomeTeam writers.
We'll be spotlighting a few kids each day as we roll out our HomeTeam 100 countdown. Up now in the queue: Robinson's Martin Ruiz, who comes in at No. 98 (see 91-100 here).
If you’re looking for a breakout player at Robinson, there are plenty of options: potential-laden sophomore running back Michael Duclos, his brother Carlos (returning from an injury that caused him to miss his junior season), new quarterback Zain Gilmore.
But the one who seems to get coach Mike DePue the most excited?
Senior running back Martin Ruiz.
“He’s going to have a big year,’’ DePue said of his 5-foot-10, 190-pound returner. “He’s looked great and he’s ready to have a breakthrough season.’’
Everything seems to point in that direction. Ruiz is already coming off a solid season, but he’s convinced it could have been better. And it will be, in 2012.
“I’m faster, I’m bigger and I’m stronger,’’ said Ruiz, who led the Knights in rushing last year. “My goal this year is to lead the county in yards and touchdowns.’’
Ruiz said he worked out this summer harder than ever. With no experienced receivers, you can expect the Knights will run as much as they can. While coaches will try to get Michael Duclos (481 yards, 8 TDs) his share of the carries as well, Ruiz sees himself as a guy who totes the rock 25 times a game.
And he gets to run behind as good an offensive line as you’ll find in Tampa Bay. Linemen Bruce Hector and Conner Rafferty have already committed to USF, “but I love all my linemen,’’ Ruiz said. DePue thinks it's as fine a unit as he has had at Robinson.
Ruiz is still awaiting his first college offer. He says he has talked a lot to USF and FIU, and hopes additional time playing safety for the Knights widens his options.
“I’ll play anywhere,’’ he says. “I hope this season shows people exactly what I can do.’’