Kevin Rusler was a dominant lineman in Northern Nevada this year, and a big reason why Carson High had so much success running the ball.
Rusler, an all-league and all-region selection, is continuing his football career after signing a national letter of intent Wednesday morning to play at William Penn University, an NAIA school in Oskaloosa, Iowa.
The 6-foot-2 180-pound Rusler and coach Blair Roman sent out a highlight film to approximately 50 colleges. William Penn is the same school Matt Nolan, former football and basketball standout, attended for a year.
Rusler is one of 53 student-athletes who William Penn head coach Todd Hafner signed, and Rusler is the only Nevada player.
“We started communicating on line, and he sent us an email with a video attached,” William Penn coach Todd Hafner said Thursday afternoon. “We liked the film. In today’s age of technology, we get hundreds of these everyday. We looked at it and liked what he had to say.”
Rusler will have to learn a new position when he starts practice in August with William Penn. He was recruited as a tight end, and he will be one of five new ones at WP.
“We run the flex bone (option),” Hafner said. “In our offense, the tight end doesn’t catch a lot of passes; maybe 10 or 12 a season. A guy that has caught 70 or 80 passes as a tight end in high school, isn’t going to come here. We use our tight end to mainly block, and having been an offensive lineman, he knows how to do that. He’s a good football player, and you can tell he’s strong.
“Last year we had three tight ends, and two graduated. We have one (full-time) tight end and one player who plays tight end and some fullback. We wanted some depth at the position, and we like to run a lot of sets with two tight ends.”
Rusler said he’s looking forward to the challenge of switching positions.
“I’m sure it will be hard at first,” Rusler said. “I may contact the coaches before I get there. I know the tight end is mainly a blocking position.
“They liked the fact that I had good feet, how I got off the ball, and my pad level on blocks.”
Roman believed Rusler was “pound-for-pound the best lineman in the league.”
And, his highlight film certainly showed his physicalness and quickness. He routinely gave up size to many of his opponents, but he almost always won his match-ups.
Rusler started the 2014 season as a reserve, but quickly won the starting job early in that season.
“Kevin really stepped up (then),” Roman said. “He had some big shoes to fill because Andy Cooper had played quick guard the previous year. Kevin did a heck of a job. He has toughness and tenacity. He’s a warrior. He brings it everyday in practice and at every game. He was really consistent.
“We asked the quick guard do a lot of pulling and trapping. You need to be a good athlete. It’s the toughest spot on the line to play.”
And, Rusler handled it well.