Jacksonville University didn’t have to look far to find its men’s soccer coach; he was just a couple hours south. On February 13, 2014, the Dolphins welcomed UCF Associate Head Coach Mauricio Ruiz as the 11th head coach in the 56-year history of JU men’s soccer.
“I’m genuinely thankful to Brad Edward and President Tim cost for giving me a chance to bring my vision to this great institution,” said Ruiz.
Ruiz joins the Dolphins after spending the last six seasons with UCF where he assisted in developing the Knights into one of the top programs in the nation.
After serving as a volunteer assistant coach at UCF in 2008, Ruiz was promoted to assistant coach in the summer of 2009 and recruiting coordinator in the spring of 2010. Securing the No. 1 recruit in the state of Florida and No. 20 recruit nationally two years in a row, Ruiz’s second recruiting class in 2012 was ranked as one of the top 30 in the country by TopDrawerSoccer and College Soccer News. The 2013 and 2014 recruiting classes also shared some of the same high-caliber recruits, including the No. 2 player in the state of Florida and four players in the top 150 in the country.
Under his recruiting and coaching efforts, UCF advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2010 after a five-year absence and has been a fixture in national rankings since then. That year, UCF hosted its first-ever NCAA Tournament game against USF in the first round, beating its in-state rivals, 3-0. The Knights then took eventual College Cup semifinalist Michigan into overtime in Ann Arbor, before falling, 2-1, in the Round of 32.
Ruiz also helped players earn individual accolades in 2010 with Warren Creavalle named as a third-team All-American. A program-record six players were named to the All-C-USA Teams, including three on the first team. The Knights also had three players named to the NSCAA All-South Region teams in 2010, with Creavalle landing a spot on the first team.
In 2011, the team once again made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament and was ranked as high as No. 6 nationally during the campaign. In its finest season in school history, UCF defeated a pair of nationally-ranked squads and opened the season 6-0-1 while advancing to the Conference USA Championship semifinals for the third consecutive year.
Heading into the 2012 season, Ruiz was promoted to Associate Head Coach. UCF recorded plenty of highlights in 2012. The Knights posted a 1-0 win over No. 17 SMU during the year and also had big road victories at Kentucky and Marshall in league play. Deshorn Brown and Andrew Quintana garnered all-league first team honors and Brown was named to the NSCAA All-South Region first team.
Ruiz not only attracted some of the top recruits in the country to come to Central Florida, he was also instrumental in helping many of his players go on to professional careers. Under his direction, Brown, Kevan George, Creavalle and Sean Johnson were selected in the MLS SuperDraft. Chosen as the 6th overall pick in 2013 in the SuperDraft, Brown was also selected to join the Jamaican Senior national team. Johnson currently suits up for the U.S. Senior national team while George plays with the Trinidad and Tobago Senior National team.
Off the field, the men's soccer team posted the highest grade point average for any men's team at UCF, and the Knights had 16 players gain spots on the C-USA Commissioner's Honor Roll for having a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or better. Personally, he helped mentor student-athletes, assisting a few of them in obtaining the C-USA Jim Castaneda Post Graduate Scholarship.
“I’m deeply grateful for my time at UCF,” said Ruiz. “I've learned some valuable lessons while working under Bryan Cunningham.”
Highly involved with the Greater Central Florida youth soccer community, he worked as the Director of Coaches for the Florida Soccer Alliance in Lake Mary, Fla. from 2010-12. Currently he holds a US Soccer Academy staff coach role with Orlando City, working with some of the top players in the Orlando area.
In his playing days, Ruiz starred at UCF before finishing his collegiate career at Stetson. As a Knight, he was part of the conference championship team that reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. Playing two seasons with the Hatters, he captained the team to an Atlantic Sun Championship during his senior year.
During the 2007-08 season, he suited up with the Orlando Sharks of the Major Indoor Soccer League, playing 27 out of 30 games and recording seven goals and four assists as a rookie.
Ruiz earned a bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems from Stetson in 2005. Born and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil, he moved to the United States in 1996 with his parents, Rosely and Miguel Ruiz, and two older sisters.
He currently holds a U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) "B" license.