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Rubin closes college career on high note

January 04, 2002|By TOM RONCO

Special to this newspaper

You are supposed to enjoy your senior year.

It's supposed to be the best season of your career, the final chapter.

Fortunately for Brawley's Kurt Rubin, his senior year this past season, and his football career in general, as a Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Mustang, actually worked out that way as the team had its best season, he made all NCAA Division I-AA independent second team and landed himself in the Mustang record book.

First, there was the finally a winning season as Cal Poly SLO finished 6-5 after going 3-8 each of Rubin's first three years.

"We had a new head coach and new assistants and they brought in a more collegiate attitude," said Rubin.

"The losing took a lot of getting used to. There were some hard nights. It was especially hard because they had gone 10-1 the year before I got here but we couldn't catch a break."


Rubin attributes part of the Mustangs' problems to coaching turnover.

"I played for four different position coaches and defensive coordinators. It messes up the team chemistry because you can't build up unity."

Rubin, who played his first three years at Cal Poly at defensive back, was moved to linebacker this season and responded with a stellar year that featured 72 tackles and an interception, a team-high 11 tackles against Cal State Northridge and two sacks versus UC Davis, all of which helped him gain the Division I-AA honors.

"I liked playing linebacker because my job was running around and making tackles," said Rubin. "It was similar to the monster back position I played at Brawley because it included coverage on pass plays."

Rubin's 72 tackles were second only to teammate Jordan Beck's 73. Rubin also was second on the team in tackles his freshman and sophomore years and had 77 tackles his junior year.

The effort put Rubin in the Mustang record book as second in career tackles with 315, just 11 shy of Gary Swanson's career mark of 326.

"I would have broken the career record if I didn't sit out two games my junior year with an injury," said Rubin, who holds the Brawley record for season tackles with 129 in 1997.

"Also, I was on special teams for my first three freshman games. … I was trying to break it but they ran away from my side of the field this year and it was hard to get tackles."

Rubin is in the Cal Poly record book for his 1999 season total of 85 tackles, which ranks 11th all time.

Rubin, an outstanding running back at Brawley High who rushed for 1,770 yards his senior year, ranking him second at the time to Brandon Young's 1,920, has not carried the ball since.

"I love defense. I missed offense a little but I didn't get a taste of it here or I probably would have missed it for sure," he said.

Rubin selected Cal Poly over Division I schools as a highly recruited player out of Brawley High, where his honors included being selected to the all-Imperial Valley League team as both a running and defensive back, IVL MVP on offense, I.V. Press' player of the year, All-CIF Southern Section Division III as well as making the Los Angeles Times' Inland Empire football team.

The decision to go to Cal Poly proved to be a good one.

"I don't regret anything because they let me play," said Rubin. "I came here because they said I would have the opportunity to play as a freshman and I wasn't looking to redshirt somewhere.

"In fact one of my best memory of college is my first start against Montana up there. They had like 20,000 fans and they sit close to the field. I was pumped up and had eight tackles and an interception."

Cal Poly also afforded his parents, Ron and Linda Rubin, and sisters, Claire and Kaylin, an opportunity to watch him play.

His last college game also was memorable.

"That last game, we were at St. Mary's and it was raining and hailing and we held them to under 100 yards total offense and they went into the game ranked No. 5 in total offense."

With his college football career literally "in the books," Rubin is focusing on life after football.

"Right now I'm enjoying life just being a student. I have three more quarters to go to get my degree in ag business with a concentration in finance. I'm pretty much on schedule because we were given priority registration and we didn't have to crash classes."

It would figure that Rubin, who earned varsity letters in basketball and baseball in addition to football as a Brawley Wildcat, would find it hard to just walk away from sports.

"One of our assistant coaches here coaches in Europe. They have some leagues over there and it gives you an opportunity to travel and you play and help coach the other players from Europe.

"I'm taking it one step at a time," said Rubin. "I need to put some film together to send over there with my coach and then we'll see what happens."

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