Two weeks ago, Novato (Calif.) San Marin quarterback Manny Wilkins pledged his services to Arizona State. On Thursday, Scottsdale (Ariz.) Saguaro signal-caller Luke Rubenzer made the call for California, flip-flopping locales with his fellow Elite 11 participant.
On June 28, Rubenzer, Wilkins and 16 other quarterbacks from around the country will go head-to-head in the Elite 11 Finals in Beaverton, Ore., for the right to be named one of the best of the best.
"It's really exciting," Rubenzer told Cal Sports Digest on Thursday, right before he announced his commitment. "The top 18 quarterbacks in the country, all in one place, all competing against one another, all making each other better, it's something you can't get anywhere else. It's obviously a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and just to be with the other top players, it's going to make me better."
When Franklin saw Rubenzer earlier in the spring, he was impressed by the pop in the 6-foot, 185-pound quarterback's arm, as well as his speed: Rubenzer recently ran a 4.6-second 40-yard dash.
"I think one thing that he liked about me was my ability to run. The way he put it was, the other quarterbacks who are at Cal right now, they're more pocket passers than dual-threat quarterbacks, and that kind of separated me from the other people he was recruiting," says Rubenzer. "I think another thing he liked was that, at our school, we kind of run the same offense. Our coaches went up to their coaching clinic up there, that he had, and I think the way that I was running in practice and getting it done in practice was what was appealing to him."
The past two Golden Bears quarterback signees have been Elite 11 Finals participants, with only Kyle Boehm and Zach Maynard the exceptions, and Rubenzer will make it three straight years and four out of five in which Cal has signed an Elite 11 Finals slinger. Rubenzer, like Zach Kline and Jared Goff before him, was quick to jump on the scholarship offered by Cal, after offensive coordinator Tony Franklin and the rest of the staff saw all they needed to over the weekend.
"He'd known that I've been really interested, and it goes both ways. I've known he's been interested in me," says Rubenzer, who earlier this spring got a scouting visit from Franklin. "After my visit, I talked to my coach and let him know that, if they were to offer me, I was going to commit, just because of what a great visit I had, and everything that they had to offer. I told him that, and then he let coach Franklin know my feelings on that, and it was actually [Wednesday] that he said, ‘If that's the case, if you're ready to commit, then we're going to offer you.' As soon as he said that, it wasn't a question of what I was going to do. It's the best place for me to go, and I wouldn't rather it be anywhere else."
Before the offer, though, Rubenzer got the behind-the-scenes tour of everything Berkeley before he hit up the Sonny Dykes Camp on Sunday evening, under the lights at Memorial Stadium.
"Me and my dad, we were actually staying in San Jose, and I was up visiting them, as well. They'd offered me a couple months back, so we decided to stay in San Jose, which was a 35, 40-minute drive to Berkeley," says Rubenzer. "We got up there on Sunday morning, met with coach Franklin and some of the other coaches, and just got kind of the full tour of everything -- the facilities, the stadium -- and we saw the campus, as well."
"After that, we hung out around Berkeley and around the campus for the rest of the day, until the camp that night. From the time I got there, to the time we left and all the way back to San Jose, I loved everything about it: Beautiful campus, beautiful facilities, amazing stadium, great coaching staff and people that I can definitely see myself playing for, for the next four or five years."
Once he was at camp, he cemented his case to be the final Cal quarterback offeree of the cycle.
"I think, one thing he liked was my quick release," says Rubenzer. "We were doing, basically, their plays, and a lot of stuff that they do is catch-and-throw, right away, without a drop or without finding the laces on the ball, so I think that was one thing that impressed him."
What so impressed Rubenzer about the Bears that he just about committed on the spot?
"The one thing I like about them, is that obviously they had success at Louisiana Tech last year," says Rubenzer, who's not much smaller than the Bulldogs' quarterback last season, Colby Cameron, who completed 359 of 522 passes for 4,174 yards and 31 TDs to just five picks in 2012. "I think coach Franklin said they scored something like 51 points per game. It was the fourth-best offense in college football, ever. If it's going to work that well at that level, it's going to work just about anywhere else. I think that's definitely a good look for us and for coach Franklin."
BTC: Rubenzer Talks Offense, Elite 11
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