Warriors’ Ruiz a savvy defender

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HARLINGEN — Santa Rosa quarterback Jose Ruiz has had a knack for identifying coverages and anticipating movement of defensive players.

So doing the reverse as a cornerback was something that came natural to him.

“(Ruiz) is a guy with a solid, solid track record,” Warriors defensive coordinator Pablo De Los Santos said. “You couldn’t get around him. He’s very smart. … He understood what we were doing defensively, so the game for him was very easy.”

In addition, De Los Santos said Ruiz acted as a quarterback of the defense, directing the secondary and helping them position themselves in the best possible way to make a play.

“He’s a very hard worker, never missed practice,” De Los Santos said. “He’s always doing the right things.”

Also, Ruiz was Warriors baseball coach Tony Leal’s left fielder and No. 2 hitter.

He will play baseball and football and study criminal justice at Graceland University, a small private Christian university located 80 miles south of Des Moines, Iowa. The Yellowjackets compete in the NAIA’s Heart of America Conference.

He was recruited primarily as a corner, but he said he will try out for both positions in practice.

Ruiz acknowledged that living outside the Rio Grande Valley for the first time may be daunting, but he feels it will be a beneficial experience for him and the four Santa Rosa teammates who are also headed to Graceland.

“It is going to be a little hard for us, since we’re not used to being outside the Valley that much,” Ruiz said. “And we’re going to be on our own. But as long as we’re together we’ll have each other to depend on, and hopefully we do great out there.”

The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has brought a new set of challenges for Ruiz and this group of Warriors, but he said he is continuing to work out on his own to stay in shape.

The Graceland coaching staff has told its players it still plans to have football camp in August, and the baseball program is allowing its players to utilize batting cages at its facility once they arrive on campus. But in the meantime, Ruiz and his teammates have been left to their own devices.

“We really don’t have much to work with,” Ruiz said. “So we’re definitely working on ourselves and our bodies. It’s been a tough time, but hopefully we get through, and we’ll do the best we can.”

Stefan Modrich Total Posts: 158 Stefan Modrich is a 2017 graduate of Arizona State University, where he was the Sports Editor for The State Press, ASU's independent student news publication. He is also a graduate of the University of Zagreb in Croatia, where he completed a foreign language program in 2018. A native of Franklin Park, Illinois, Modrich previously covered high school sports for The Arizona Republic, Chicago Tribune, and Mars Reel Media.