Three Bearcats Sign As NFL Free Agents
Jonathan Ruffin, DeMarco McCleskey & Jason Hunt Take Advantage of NFL Offers To Start Pro Careers
Contact: Brian McCann
CINCINNATI, Ohio — After not being picked during last weekend’s NFL Draft, University of Cincinnati seniors Jonathan Ruffin (Metairie, LA/Ridgewood Prep), DeMarco McCleskey (Claremore, OK) and Jason Hunt (Modesto, CA/Sacramento CC) have signed free agent contracts.
Ruffin signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers while McCleskey elected to join the San Diego Chargers and Hunt with the New England Patriots.
The signings brings the number of Bearcats seniors heading to the NFL next year to six. Antwan Peek, Jon Olinger and Blue Adams were each selected during the seven-round draft.
Ruffin concluded his brilliant collegiate career as the top kicker in school history. He owns the school career marks for field goals made (62) and attempted (79), extra points made (129) and attempted (134), points (315) and field goal percentage (.784). He made 19 of 22 field goals this year, including a school-record 13 straight to end the season, scoring 101 points.
McCleskey was a second team all-league choice this year after setting the UC single season records for rushing attempts (315), yards (1,361) and total touchdowns (17). He ended his career ranked second in school history with 3,487 rushing yards while setting school and C-USA standards for rushing touchdowns (37) and total touchdowns (41) in a career.
Hunt was a starter at outside linebacker in 23 of his 25 career games, finishing 10th on the team in 2002 with 73 tackles while adding seven tackles for loss and a pair of quarterback sacks.
Ruffin was the most sought after of the UC free agents. With only one kicker being selected during the draft, he became the focus of several teams even before the draft was officially over.
“I heard from two or three teams during the sixth and seventh rounds,” Ruffin said. “Pittsburgh was thinking about taking me with the seventh round but then decided to use it elsewhere. Once the draft ended, my phone wouldn’t stop ringing and I had maybe a dozen or so teams calling to see if I was interested.”