If you’re an Arizona high school football fan, Luke Rubenzer making plays on the football field is a familiar sight. As a quarterback for Saguaro High School, the dual-threat quarterback led the Sabercats to two state championships and broke state and national records along the way.
Rubenzer was an Elite 11 quarterback in 2013, joining former Desert Mountain quarterback and current Houston Cougar Kyle Allen and ASU quarterback Manny Wilkins in that class. Despite the records, stats and winning pedigree from a premier Arizona program, Rubenzer “wasn’t getting much love until the end” recruiting-wise.
Then Cal came calling. Rubenzer committed to the Bears as a quarterback and split time his freshman year with a 6-foot-4 sophomore named Jared Goff. As time went on, Goff emerged as a top quarterback in the conference and then the country. Rubenzer was eager to find the field. His high school coach, Jason Mohns, said Rubenzer is the type of player that will just annoy you on the sideline because he just wants to make plays and help his team win.
After some injuries in the secondary, Rubenzer began playing at safety in his sophomore season and logged 43 tackles and two interceptions. Leading into the 2016 season, with the Bears in need of safety help again after Damariay Drew required surgery. Rubenzer requested to go back to safety.
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) August 27, 2016
He is now sixth on the team in tackles and has an interception – off fellow Elite 11 product and Texas quarterback Shane Buechele – and two fumbles recovered. He also went toe-to-toe with ASU quarterback Manny Wilkins, who went to Beaverton with Rubenzer in 2013, when the Sun Devils beat the Bears 51-41.
Flipping from offense to defense may be a tough challenge, but Rubenzer is taking it in stride. His ability to lower his shoulder and pack a punch as a quarterback has been an advantage for him as he is now trying to impose the contact rather than absorb it.
Also driving him is the fact that he gets the chance to play, and beat, teams that may have overlooked him in the recruiting process, including the in-state Sun Devils and Wildcats. Mohns said Rubenzer is the most competitive person he has ever met and his desire to be the best fuels his play.
Saguaro alum Luke Rubenzer with the interception for Cal. Huge play- allowed Cal to take the lead before half. pic.twitter.com/f51C6RTGeJ
— AZ Varsity- Football (@AZHSFB) September 18, 2016
To Rubenzer, landing at Cal was a blessing, but the same chip on his shoulder that was present during his high school success and recruitment is still there during his third season of Pac-12 play.
And don’t expect that to go away.