Cal backup quarterback Luke Rubenzer spent the first day of spring practice at safety.
Honest. I’m in Las Vegas covering basketball, so this was news to me, too.
Rubenzer said the coaching staff approached him a few weeks ago about possibly redshirting next season, likely because they didn’t want to use another year of his eligibility with Jared Goff as the clear starter.
Redshirting did not appeal to Rubenzer, who got a fair amount of game action as a true freshman last fall, giving the Bears a backup quarterback with running ability.
“I think it would be really hard to do that as much as I did last year. I think it would be really hard to sit out a year,” he told reporters after practice. “I just said I wanted to play.”
At that point, he explained, offensive coordinator Tony Franklin told him defensive coordinator Art Kaufman was interested in getting a look at him on defense. Rubenzer, who played safety in high school at Scottsdale, Arizona, isn’t sure his quarterback days may not be over.
“I just felt like I could help on that side of the ball a little more this year than I can on offense,” he said. “It’s not necessarily a 100-percent permanent thing. But I’ll give it a shot. Just try to find a way onto the field and find ways to win.”
Rubenzer expects to play only defense during these first two weeks of spring workouts. The team then breaks for a week-and-a-half, during which the coaches will evaluate everyone’s performance, including Rubenzer at safety.
“We’ll see how it goes from there,” he said.
Coach Sonny Dykes said Rubenzer might help the Bears address their needs at safety.
“We tried it today. He’s been doing it for about three weeks. It’s nothing that’s set in stone,” Dykes said.
“We’ll see how he likes it and how he progresses, and if he can help our football team win then we’re going to play him in a position where he can help us win. I thought he did good things today.”
Dykes believes Rubenzer has the makeup to possibly make the switch.
“He’s athletic, he’s tough, he’s smart. He’s kind of what you want back there, so we’ll see how it plays out.”
Rubenzer said time spent in the film room watching coverages as a quarterback can be applied to defense. It’s just a matter of flipping the equation.
“People say the safety is the quarterback of the defense,” Rubenzer said. “Obviously, we watch film from a quarterback’s standpoint. You kind of take mental notes on where the defense is going to line up.”