Ruffin jest the best

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:35 AM ET

When they make the movie of the Calgary Stampeders 2007 season, J.R. Ruffin would like to play two roles.

Of course, Ruffin will star as himself, starting defensive back and kick returner. He will also tackle the role of head coach, because one thing Ruffin has shown at training camp is a spot-on Tom Higgins impression.

"All my life I wanted to be an actor, so I've been doing this since I was little," Ruffin said. "I'm always doing impersonations and jokes."

On Saturday's rookie night, Ruffin -- as Higgins -- was master of ceremonies introducing the newcomers to sing a song or tell a joke.

Ruffin stole the show and two days later took over a team meeting doing the same impression.

"Sometimes players have hidden talents," said Higgins, who takes the imitation as flattery. "He did a Tom Higgins very well. He had quite a few of the Higginisms down.

"He was gutsy enough to ask if he could speak in the team meeting. He asked if I minded if Tom Higgins comes in.

"I said absolutely not. Even the way I hold the podium, he had down to a tee. He even brought notes, just the way I bring my speaking notes.

"It was very entertaining and humorous.

"It was a great way to break the monotony of training camp."

Ruffin's performances have been the talk the last couple of days of practice, especially since he was probably the quietest player on the team last year when he was a rookie.

"I wasn't expecting that from him but it was awesome," said offensive lineman Jeff Pilon.

Even resident colourman Scott Coe had to concede the sophomore defensive back is the Stamps' new jokester.

"He's hilarious," Coe said. "He had us laughing so hard we couldn't catch our breath."

Although Ruffin's only movie experience came when he and his Citrus College teammates were the football team in Not Another Teen Movie, the 24-year-old hopes to go into comedic acting once he's done football.

He said it only takes a couple of hours watching a movie or television show to begin forming an imitation of stars such as Denzel Washington, Chris Tucker or Chris Rock.

So far, he picks his spots when doing impressions because his best ones are of people around him. Ruffin compares doing improv in front of a crowd to returning a kick: Find a comfortable route and dive in head first.

"I don't write too much down. I will just jot down a note on a topic and then freestyle everything," said Ruffin, adding he wrote down keywords for Higgins. "I will talk about 'challenges' and 'opportunities' the way coach says things but then make up my own stuff with what we need to talk about."


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