Dionté Ruffin will team up with fellow Hilltopper Joel Iyiegbuniwe in Chicago.
The former Western Kentucky cornerback signed as an undrafted free agent Saturday night following the NFL Draft. No Hilltoppers were selected in any of the seven rounds of the weekend’s draft.
“Can’t explain the feeling...” Ruffin tweeted with the hashtags #beardown #thisoneforyou and #blessed.
The Kenner, La., native started every game for WKU for the second straight season in 2020, helping lead one of the top pass defenses in the nation. He made 23 total tackles while adding 11 pass breakups to lead the Hilltoppers, which ranked second in C-USA and tied for fifth in the nation. He tied a career-high with three pass breakups against Liberty, then added two pass breakups in games at UAB and versus FIU later in the season. In the league’s postseason awards, he was voted Second Team All-C-USA by the conference’s coaches.
He made his first career interception at No. 10/11 BYU against Heisman Trophy hopeful and No. 2 overall NFL Draft pick Zach Wilson, breaking the quarterback’s all-time program-record streak of 184 consecutive passes without an interception. Ruffin returned it for 28 yards, deep into the red zone, leading to a Hilltopper touchdown the following play. He had a standout game overall against the Cougars, playing all 69 defensive snaps while allowing only one reception for six yards on seven targets against him, lining up against the likes of star wide receivers Dax Milne and Gunner Romney.
Ruffin is believed to be the fifth former WKU player to become a Bear, joining Iyiegbuniwe, Curtis Hamilton (2008), Anthony Oakley (2005) and Virgil Livers (1975). Also a defensive back, Livers enjoyed one of the most accomplished NFL careers by any Hilltopper, starting 60 games for Chicago from 1975-79 with 12 career interceptions and six fumble recoveries.
The Bears went 8-8 and earned a playoff berth in 2020, losing to the New Orleans Saints in the Wild Card round.
The announcement of Ruffin’s signing came after the announcement that former WKU safety Devon Key signed with the Kansas City Chiefs and offensive lineman Jordan Meredith signed with the Los Angeles Rams.
WKU now has 12 total players in the NFL. Along with Key, Meredith, Ruffin and Iyiegbuniwe, there is Deon Yelder (Kansas City Chiefs), Tyler Higbee (Los Angeles Rams), Jack Doyle (Indianapolis Colts), George Fant (New York Jets), Forrest Lamp (Buffalo Bills), Taywan Taylor (Cleveland Browns), Mike White (New York Jets) and recently-signed Hilltopper Basketball alumni Carson Williams (Las Vegas Raiders).