He looked like a real Forrest Gump, that Alabama supersonic kid who played soccer for the Crimson Tide and loves his mom very much.
Only his mom could outrun him.
Nataki Ruggs, a former athletic star, said she had already run the 40-yard dash in 4.23 seconds like a roadrunner during an early morning workout. It’s two hundredths of a second faster than his son Henry’s best official time, and only one hundredth of a second slower than John Ross’s combined NFL record of 4.22 seconds established in 2017.
Even her son at the foot of the water thinks that Mom is shooting fast.
“If you ask me, she never ran at that time,” said Henry Ruggs III with a smile at the last combine in February. “I knew it was fast enough. She ran around the neighborhood, ran against the guys all the time and beat them. And we used to run when I was young, but I was young. “
These races would take place in grocery store parking lots, on empty streets and outside the house – the mother and son seeing who was the fastest for the car or an imaginary finish line. Nataki’s experience and experience on the track gave him an advantage that his son finally overcame with his talent.
“Once I started beating her, she would say, ‘OK, you’re going to be able to run,’ said Henry.” It helped me build a lot of confidence. “
This conviction prompted Ruggs to proclaim himself the fastest combine player and to target Ross 4.22.
Alas, Ruggs posted a 4.27, several ticks below the record, but perhaps for the better. He doesn’t just want to be known for his speed, presenting himself as a full receiver after a junior season. He caught 40 catches for 746 yards and seven touchdowns as part of a stacked receiving body that also included Jerry Jeudy and DeVonta Smith.
“I’m a point guard; I’m not just proud of the speed,” said Ruggs, 5 feet 11 and 188 pounds. “I want to be a guy who can do it all on the field. I’m coming down ground to block for my teammates, just like they do for me. I play without the ball and with the ball in my hands, I can play. “
Ruggs is widely projected to be selected in the middle of the first round, the third receiver off the shelf behind Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb of Oklahoma. He said he feels his best football is ahead because he has been surrounded by talents who have required a wide distribution of hits in Alabama.
No matter how long he stays in the NFL, he could never find someone as fast as his mom … or at least as fast as his mom claimed to be.
“In the end, she will tell you that she is not faster than me,” said Henry. “Perhaps at its peak, she wanted to. But no.”