Conversations about Colorado State University-Pueblo quarterbacks usually revolved around the names Ross Dausin and Chris Bonner. As football players who have been instrumental in numerous Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference championships and even a national title, they have solidified a spot in Thunderwolf history. Few people would mention, let alone be aware of, Malcolm Ruben in their talks of great Thunderwolf passers of old.
Ruben is ready to change that.
Dausin, Bonner, and Ruben have a lot in common when it comes to the tangible aspect of being a quarterback. All are 6 foot 5 inches and above and all have rocket arms capable of launching deep balls. However, one thing is a little different about Malcolm Ruben.
Ruben would be the first black quarterback to be the starter for the Thunderwolves since at least the revival of the team back in 2007.
This, however, has no impact on him.
“Me being a black quarterback is cool but it doesn’t really affect the way I feel or anything, for that matter,” Ruben said. “I naturally have a chip on my shoulder due to this being my last opportunity to play ball. Nothing in regards to my race is a factor.”
Reuben’s father was a local basketball legend in his community while he was growing up, so he was taught early the importance of conducting himself as a sportsman in order to be successful. He attributes much of his success to his family and the lessons instilled in him as a child.
“Family has played a major role in my life when it relates to athletics,” Ruben said. “The biggest lesson I learned was that if I wanted to continue competing I would need to keep my grades up at all times or else my opportunities would be limited.”
Ruben heeded his father’s advice and stayed diligent throughout high school eventually earning a scholarship to Division IAA powerhouse Abilene Christian University in Texas.
At 6 foot 6 inches and 225 pounds, Ruben easily looks the part on paper. With a rocket for an arm and as a natural charismatic leader, he transferred from ACU ready to compete for a starting spot at Pueblo. His eagerness was halted, however, when he found himself taking second-string reps in practice and watching Bonner take the field on Saturdays.
Ruben could’ve sulked and dwelled on the negatives or perhaps rethink his decision to come here, but he didn’t. Instead, Ruben did what any good backup would do and any great quarterback must do: become a student of the game.
Putting in countless hours of film study and one-on-one sessions with coaches, he diligently studied the game in order to become a better player himself. He also began to work closely with Bonner.
“Me and Bonner are pretty good friends. It’s pretty funny because initially I didn’t think we would get along because I was competing for his job,” said Ruben. “But being him and watching the way he studied the game and how he handled himself was very beneficial. He and I have different playing styles but I was still able to learn a lot from being around him.”
The thing above all else that Ruben hopes to emulate of the NFL hopeful is his selflessness.
“One thing I admire about him was his humbleness. It was never about him. He always credited his teammates for his success,” he said.
Now fresh off a national championship season and with the graduation of their star quarterback, the Thunderwolves are searching for their next gunslinger and Ruben seems to be the frontrunner.
Through hard work, discipline, and attacking the hidden intricacies of the game, Ruben has found himself in a position he’s been hungry for since he transferred to CSU-Pueblo.
Being a quarterback of a national powerhouse like CSU-Pueblo comes with a lot of expectations. He will be the play caller, the captain and the scapegoat. Things go right, and he gets the credit but when things go wrong he gets the blame. Ruben has the opportunity to be at the helm of a team after its most successful season in program history.
Bonner was cool, calm, humble and led when he had to. Ruben is vocal and energetic. Bonner was a pocket passer while Ruben has the added element of being able to run and be a mobile quarterback. They’re different players and different leaders, yet Ruben has no fears about winning over the team.
“I don’t see any apparent hurdles in regards to leading this team. I’ve only been in this program for six months and I think the fellas are accomplished are accepting me as one of the leaders pretty well,” he said.
His senior year, his team, and big shoes to fill. The 2015 season will look a lot different to the fans with new faces filling in positions on the field and throughout the coaching staff. However, Ruben aims to keep at least one aspect the same: winning.
“I’m just ready to have fun and make new memories with new guys,” Ruben said. “This 2015 season will be my last as a collegiate athlete and I want it to be a great one. My goal this season is to simply win games. We win games and we’ll find ourselves right back in Kansas City come week 15. But I’m also aware that we have to take this thing one day at a time.”
Ruben will look to solidify his starting spot this spring and lead the Thunderwolves back to Kansas City for another national championship in 2015.