By Joyce Erekson
Lynn native Rufus Rushins will be suiting up for the Westfield State University football team this fall.
The Bishop Fenwick star running back opted to go to American International College in Springfield coming out of high school in 2015, but he transferred to Westfield State after one semester and is now gearing up to play for the Owls this fall.
Rushins did not play for the Yellow Jackets last fall which means he’ll have all four years of eligibility at Westfield.
“It (AIC) just wasn’t a good fit for me both academically and for football,” Rushins said. “I realized halfway through the first semester it wasn’t a good fit and I started reaching out and calling some other coaches.”
Rushins said Westfield was one of the schools he had originally considered and he always kept in touch with the coach. He got a taste of what lies ahead last semester when he played spring football (no pads).
“I thought I picked up the offense pretty well,” Rushins said. “I’m excited about the upcoming season . “ I see this as a good fit for the next four years.”
The Owls are coming off a 2-8 season, but Rushins isn’t deterred.
“This team has a chance to be something good and that’s something i want to be a part of,” he said, adding that he doesn’t know yet what his role will be but he will be running the ball.
When Rushins was a freshman at Bishop Fenwick, the Crusaders finished 3-8. The team irmpoved every year after that and Rushins was one of the keys to their success.
Rushins’ career statistics are impressive. He rushed for 5,762 yards, scored 71 touchdowns and racked up 468 points. He was the Catholic Central League Most Valuable player his senior year. When Rushins was a junior, the team went 13-0 and won the Division 5 Super Bowl. As a senior, Rushins ran for 1,897 and 20 touchdowns. The Crusaders won back-to-back Catholic Central League titles his junior and senior years.
“It was an awesome experience,” Rushins said of his experience at Fenwick. “I learned a lot from Coach Woods … I learned how to really deal with adversity. It was just an awesome experience.
Rushins, 20, said he’ll be majoring in criminal justice with the ultimate goal of someday becoming a canine officer.
“I’ve always loved dogs and animals in general,” he said. “I grew up around dogs my whole life.”