Eric Ruhl remembers when he first began throwing around a lacrosse ball as a seventh-grader.
It's easy for Ruhl, now a junior at Dublin Jerome High School, to recall because his life hasn't been the same since.
In mid-November, things changed even more when he made a verbal commitment to play for Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.
"I don't think there's been a day since (I was introduced to lacrosse) that I've not had a lacrosse stick in my hand," he said.
Ruhl is the third player from Jerome's program to commit to play for the Blue Jays, joining 2008 graduates Marshall Burkhart and Tyler Mordecai. Those three, along with 2008 graduates Tanner Seago (St. John's) and Alex VanKrevel (Army), helped the Celtics finish 14-6 overall and earn a Division I regional runner-up finish last spring.
The 6-foot-3, 175-pound Ruhl was a midfielder as a freshman and contributed 35 ground balls, five goals and three assists. Last season, he moved to attacker and was the leading scorer with 48 goals and 22 assists and also had 45 ground balls.
Ruhl joins senior Erik Flexer -- who signed a letter of intent Nov. 18 to play for St. John's -- as a returnee next spring who already has committed to play in college.
"Eric is a very special player who has been willing to help his team in whatever way possible," coach A.J. Auld said. "Last season he switched from midfield to attack and actually played left wing, although he is a natural right-handed player. The fact that he was playing with his off hand and still led our squad in scoring is a testament to exactly how talented he is.
"We have seen Eric take his game to the next level after gaining confidence by not only competing against the best that Ohio has to offer, but also achieving high honors at the recruiting camps he attended last summer."
After Ruhl attended the Top 205 camp at Towson last summer, scholarship offers began arriving. He chose Johns Hopkins over a list of programs led by Ohio State and Syracuse but that also included Denver, North Carolina and Notre Dame.
Johns Hopkins lost to Syracuse 13-10 in the Division I national championship game before a record crowd of 48,970 last May in Foxborough, Mass., to finish 11-6.
The Blue Jays have won nine national championships, including in 2005 and 2007.
"I loved the campus and the coaches, and I loved the guys," said Ruhl, who hopes to major in a pre-medicine field or engineering. "I realized how special it would be to play with Marshall and Tyler. They had a little bit of an influence on the decision, but even if they weren't there, it wouldn't have stopped me from going there. I just wanted an opportunity to play against the best.
"(Johns Hopkins) saw me at a camp, and come Sept. 1 Hopkins e-mailed me and sent me letters. I'd have to say Ohio State and Syracuse were tied for second, but I'd have to say that the campus and the academics did it for me. It's a pretty prestigious school."
Eric's brother, Scott, is a 2007 Jerome graduate and is a sophomore attacker for Towson University, a Colonial Athletic Association school located about 15 miles away from Johns Hopkins. The Blue Jays beat Towson 16-7 last April.
Another of their siblings, 2004 Dublin Coffman graduate, Kyle Ruhl, is a senior wide receiver for Ohio State's football team.
This fall, Eric Ruhl was the kicker and punter for the football team and made first-team all-OCC-Cardinal Division and also competed for the boys soccer team.
"Eric was fortunate to have been identified as one of the top junior recruits in the country by many college coaches, which came with unique challenges that most athletes never encounter," Auld said. "He essentially had to visit and decide between eight top-tier college programs in a three-week time span.
"I strongly believe that the success of our Jerome lacrosse alumni has begun to open doors for our current and future players. The central Ohio class of 2008 seems to be doing particularly well according to the college coaches and players that I've spoken with."