ADAMS TWP — A tough decision for Teddy Ruffner was made easier after he knew he had found the right fit.
A senior football and baseball star at Mars, Ruffner was recently on the fence about what sport he would continue to play in college.
“I was recently contacted by Youngstown State and UNC Wilmington about playing baseball,” said Ruffner, a resident of Mars who is a catcher on the diamond. “They both offered me a scholarship and that's when I started leaning that way.”
Ruffner made a verbal commitment Sept. 23 to attend UNC Wilmington, a Division I school that competes in the Colonial Athletic Association.
“They've had a decent amount of players drafted and are a top 50 program every year,” added Ruffner. “I just didn't think I would get the opportunity to play at that same level in football.”
But he will miss action on the gridiron, where he is a standout running back and linebacker for the Planets.
The reigning Butler Eagle Scoring Trophy champion, he has rushed for 536 yards and eight touchdowns in just three games this season.
“I was thinking about that after I made the decision to play baseball in college. I thought about the next six or eight weeks, however long our football season lasts, that's going to be my football career coming to an end. I want to make the most of it.
“I will miss putting the pads on.”
Due to the coronavirus restrictions and his obligations to the Mars' football team, Ruffner has not been able to visit UNC Wilmington's campus. But he has had several conversations with Seahawks' head coach Randy Hood.
“Nobody I talked to had anything bad to say about Wilmington,” said Ruffner, who is strong defensively and in the batting order, not always the case for catchers. “I didn't want to let this opportunity go by.”
Hood's first season as UNC Wilmington's head coach was 2019 after he spent 18 years in the program as an assistant.
This century, the Seahawks have won six Colonial Athletic Association titles, nine CAA regular-season crowns and have advanced to 10 NCAA regional tournaments.
With his college destination known, Ruffner hopes to have one final season in a Mars baseball uniform.
“I'm excited about next spring,” he said. “Last year got taken away from us and we just want to get back out there and not have our hard work go to waste.
“We're thinking it could be a big year for us, make runs in the WPIAL playoffs and even states.”