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Calvary Day Duo Fulfill Dream

By Barry Every
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Two-way standout Jalen Leary will sign with Stetson and hybrid safety/linebacker Dwayne Ruff, II has chosen East Tennessee State.

During the early signing period Calvary Day Head Coach Mark Stroud saw bookends D’Quan Douse and Sayyid Stevens ink with Georgia Tech and Duke, respectively. But they will not be the lone senior Cavaliers living out their dream of playing Division I football. Two-way standout Jalen Leary will sign with Stetson and hybrid safety/linebacker Dwayne Ruff, II has chosen East Tennessee State.

Leary, a four year starter, rushed for 3,646 yards and 42 touchdowns while adding 15 receptions for 134 yards and a pair of scores. Defensively he finished his career with 252 tackles, 16 TFL’s and six INT’s. The 5-foot-8, 180-pound dynamo was recognized as Overall MVP for Region 3-A Overall MVP as a junior and senior. His gridiron prowess also earned him a spot on the AJC Class A-Private All-State Team his final two seasons at Calvary.

“Leary started out as a corner for us as a freshman and sophomore, as a junior he became our workhorse at running back,” Stroud said. “We also moved him to linebacker his junior and senior years because we just really needed him there. What makes him great is the fact that every time he hits the field you know what you’re going to get. I think a lot of people missed on him.”

Ruff was a two-year starter on the defensive side of the ball for Calvary playing both safety and linebacker. In those 25 games he helped guide the Cavs’ to a (20-5/10-1) mark by adding 102 tackles, eight TFL’s, four PBU’s and one INT. As a senior he was named First Team All-Region while also being named Second Team All-Greater Savannah by the Savannah Morning News.

“Ruff battled injuries his first two years, otherwise he would have been a four-year starter for us,” Stroud said. “He played some safety for us and then we moved him to outside linebacker. This guy just has such a high ceiling because he can run, has great strength and is just so physical.”

The Hatters bested Presbyterian for Leary’s services. As a matter of fact his official visit went so well in DeLand, Florida he pulled the trigger before coming home to Savannah.

“Saturday morning my mother, brother, dad and I were able to sit down with Head Coach Roger Hughes in his office, that is when I gave my commitment,” Leary said. “I just really liked the whole environment and how beautiful the campus was. I had visited other campuses unofficially, but none of them felt like home. Downtown Deland really reminded me of Savannah. My family loved it as much as I did and I felt this was the right place for me.”

East Tennessee State was able to secure Ruff’s verbal commitment over Southern Conference rival Citadel and hometown favorite Savannah State. Western Carolina was even trying to get a last minute visit from the hard striking defender, but it was simply too late.

“ETSU was my first choice all along and after what I saw on my official visit I couldn’t see myself playing anywhere else,” Ruff said. “The campus is big, but not too big I could really see myself coming here and learning. Head Coach Randy Sanders is such a great guy. I wasn’t sure how my first impression would be, but after sitting with him at lunch I was convinced he was a really cool dude. I also liked what the older players said about playing for him.”

Having played cornerback, linebacker and running in his high school career Leary is headed to Stetson with eyes of coming out of the backfield for the Hatters. He hopes to make an instant impact on the field while majoring in Biology.

“Leary comes from a great family with an impressive support system; he is simply a winner,” Stroud said. “He’ll make up any ground he doesn’t have physically with effort. He will do whatever it takes to be that running back at Stetson.”

Ruff on the other hand is most assuredly ending up on the defensive side of the ball for the Buccaneers. His athleticism will allow him to play strong safety, while his frame screams potential outside backer down the road. Ruff intends to major in Business Marketing and Merchandising.

“Ruff also comes from a great family and they all loved their time on the official visit,” Stroud said. “I really think that they will move him to outside linebacker. He is tough and has all the ingredients to succeed there.”

Having seen both Leary and Ruff in action this past season; I can assure you that Coach Stroud is spot on about the mettle these young men possess. For me, Leary is one of the toughest competitors, pound-for-pound, I have ever evaluated. He has the ability to make defenders miss, while being able to make those extra yards after contact.

Ruff on the other hand was a bit of an unknown. After watching him warm-up prior the contest versus Savannah (Ga.) Islands his anonymity was no longer. He is physically impressive on the hoof and demonstrated a serious affinity for contact.

ESPNCoastal and would like to congratulate Leary and Ruff, as well as all the other area athletes fulfilling their dream of playing college football. The class of 2019 has really put the Savannah area on the recruiting map. Coastal Georgia is no longer an afterthought for college recruiters. 2020 you are now on the clock