Former Safety Tackles Cause

"He's a born leader and an excellent football player." That's how Joe Paterno described Lee Rubin (safety 89-93) prior to his senior year. Paterno had a good read on Rubin, who now uses that leadership to help young men through his annual Penn State Pilgrimage. Now, to grow the event he has started the Blue-White Scholarship Breakfast bringing together PSU personalities like Jerry Sandusky, Bobby Engram and Charlie Pittman, among others. We sat down with Rubin to tackle some topics.

Fight On State: Lee, catch us up with what have you been up to since you wrapped up your playing days at Penn State.

Lee Rubin: I've been working hard. Professionally, for most of the last 10 years I have been in the financial services industry as a corporate recruiter, many of those years were with Merrill Lynch, and currently I am with Charles Schwab.

Also, I have attempted to stay connected to my community, working through the non-profit organization CRERC. Through this I try to support individuals locally that may not have the support and exposure that I've had over the years.

FOS: Having played safety for Penn State, what do you feel is the most important part of being an effective defensive back?

Rubin: Speed is a requirement. However, with the sophistication of offenses these days, defenses are required to have intelligent, responsive individuals, especially in the seconday. Mistakes "back there" are magnified because they usually result in big gains or event touchdowns.

Also, in a defense like PSU's, there is no such thing as (soft) cover corners. You must have a unique balance of speed/quickness and toughness.

FOS: The PSU coaches have to completely rebuild the secondary this coming year. As a former safety what are the most important aspects the coaches are likely looking for to assemble a solid unit?

Rubin: To be recruited at a place like PSU, the returning defensive backs are obviously talented. So, the coaches will be looking for an individual (typically the safety) to emerge as a vocal leader. The safety usually makes the coverage calls and adjustments. Also, it is important that the group bonds and communicates well. Breakdowns in coverage are normally the results of breakdowns in communication.

FOS: Many feel that the 2005 squad deserves to be considered among the best PSU teams of all time. What were your impressions of that team and why were they successful?

Rubin: It is very exciting to see them back in the national spotlight. Great teams find a way to win, so at 11-1, it's hard to not to consider them among the best. Although having a talented collection of individuals doesn't necessarily mean you have a great team.

I think they had a necessary connection of senior leadership and youthful ambition. The upperclassmen were frustrated and were willing to do whatever it took to win, and the rookies, apparently, didn't understand how to do anything but win.

FOS: What are your opinions of Justin King as a defensive back -- both strengths and areas he needs to focus on improving?

Rubin: Justin is a tremendous athlete. His college experience so far reminds me of a situation my former teammate and good friend, Shelly Hammonds, was in. He's so talented that the coaches have tried to get him on the field on offense and defense. Once he is able to focus purely on defense, he has all the tools to be a big-time player.

FOS: Talk about what motivated you to start the PSU Scholarship Breakfast.

I must mention two other names here. My long-time friend from New Jersey, Dwayne Fitzpatrick, is responsible for starting our annual trip to PSU seven years ago. It was his idea to bring some of the young men from our church to the Bleu-White game to expose them to world that they were not familiar with. This trip has grown from a few guys in a car to a busload of young men. Each year, we try to add a new wrinkle to the program. This year, we are adding the fundraising breakfast.

The PSU trip is one of the many programs sponsored by a non-profit organization that my wife, Carmen, started, the Community Refuge Education and Recreation Center (CRERC). The CRERC received a very generous gift from one of our donors (who wishes to remain unidentified) based on his interaction with the group during a previous Penn State trip. He wanted the funds to be earmarked for scholarships for young people served by the CRERC. So, to increase this pool of resources, we thought it would be a great idea to do something during Blue-White weekend.

FOS: You obviously feel that giving back to the community is a vital aspect of one's life, is this something that was instilled within you during your time at Penn State?

Rubin: Being a contributor, and helping one's neighbor, was something instilled in me as a child. My parents were church leaders (my dad is the pastor), and this was our lifestyle. So I came to Penn State with this mindset.

However, as a student-athlete in a big-time program, I learned that this responsibility is magnified, because you are given more exposure and notoriety. And I believe the statement that to whom much is given, much is required.

FOS: What is your vision for the Blue-White Breakfast?

Rubin: I have been overwhelmed already with the support we've received. The fact that so many people have contributed to the program's success has forced me realize that when you have a positive event, that clearly demonstrates some sense of unselfish purpose, then the sky really is the limit.

Ultimately, we are trying to make sure that young people, who may otherwise be unable to, are able to go to college. I envision this event growing to further unify a very supportive PSU community while, at the same time, we gather financial resources to be an asset to the lives of individuals that need that help.

FOS: The Blue-White Breakfast will feature PSU legends young and old, from Bobby Engram to Charlie Pittman - how did you get such an impressive array of PSU participants?

Rubin: It goes back to having a clear, positive purpose. I can't take credit for people seeing value in a positive endeavor, and choosing to be a part of it. I'm just excited about being a part of positively impacting in the lives of our young men. is proud to be the official media partner of the Blue-White Breakfast. If you would like to learn more about the event or order tickets online (seating is limited) please visit the Blue-White Scholarhip Breakfast's Official Web Site.


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