Ohio State football kicker Noah Ruggles returns to team after missing spring practice

Joey Kaufman
The Columbus Dispatch
Ohio State Buckeyes place kicker Noah Ruggles (95) kicks off a drive during Saturday's NCAA Division I football game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb., on November 6, 2021.

Ohio State kicker Noah Ruggles has returned to the team after sitting out spring practice.

“He needed a little time away,” coach Ryan Day said Friday afternoon, “but he’s back.”  

After transferring from North Carolina last summer, Ruggles made an immediate impact for the Buckeyes with his accuracy.

He hit 20 of 21 field-goal attempts in 2021, including the game-winner in the Rose Bowl victory over Utah, a level of precision that made him one of three finalists for the Lou Groza Award as the nation’s top kicker.

Special teams coordinator Parker Fleming referred to Ruggles’ absence from spring practice as “kind of a personal thing.”

“It wasn’t a big deal,” Fleming said. “It was nothing bad. It was just kind of a situation the head coach and I had, and that’s the direction we went.”

Though an unusual situation, Ruggles’ experience has kept Fleming at ease. Next fall will be his sixth season in college, and he wasn’t with the Buckeyes last spring, either.

Ruggles spent several months in the transfer portal before enrolling at Ohio State in June.

“He’s an older guy,” Fleming said. “He’s mature. He can take care of himself, and that’s something he was doing the entire time he wasn’t with us.”

Fleming added that he had kept in touch with Ruggles while he was away from the team for much of the year.

“I talked to him all the time,” Fleming said. “He and I have a great relationship. We were constantly communicating. It wasn’t as much checking in, it was to make sure he got what he needs, make sure he’s doing what he needs to be doing, if he needs help form me or support from anyone here, we’re always here for that.”

Ruggles won’t be the only kicker joining the Buckeyes ahead of preseason training camp in August.

Former USC kicker Parker Lewis, who put his name in the portal in December, announced last week that he was transferring to Ohio State. 

Joey Kaufman covers Ohio State football for The Columbus Dispatch. Contact him at jkaufman@dispatch.com or on Twitter @joeyrkaufman.

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