Asauni Rufus has always been one to stay in the moment but always keen to the idea of the future’s uncertainty.

That was the case when he was guiding Bakersfield High his senior year to the CIF State Division I football title in 2013 without an offer to his name until Nevada gave one of the best all-around athletes Kern County has produced his lone offer.

Rufus used that same mentality after the gruesome injury that broke his leg in November of 2017. When Rufus went down on the blue turf at Boise State while Nevada was playing the Broncos in Mountain West Conference play, his final season in 2018 for Nevada as a standout defensive back was in question.

He recovered and played at full strength.

Rufus now has that same approach heading into his new venture as a graduate assistant coach at Nevada that he accepted last month.

“I am pretty close with the staff up there (at Nevada) and they reached out,” Rufus said. “They knew that I expressed an interest in coaching during my time there. A position opened up and they reached out. It’s a pretty cool opportunity.”

Graduate assistant coaches do not get a full-time salary for the job, but rather receive a financial-aid package that plays for graduate school while they are on staff and are a rare opportunity for recent graduates.

After four standout seasons at Nevada, Rufus was hopeful of a shot as an undrafted free agent, but the calls never came. And for the time being, Rufus, who still would entertain an offer from a professional team, has his mind set on coaching.

“I haven’t really thought about that,” Rufus said of playing football again. I don’t really know whether I am going to play. I didn’t really get an opportunity. This is what I am doing now This is what I am focused on.”

Rufus said the coaching staff at Nevada reached out to him in January about the idea of working as a graduate assistant so he could begin work on his Master’s degree. As he trained for his pro day throughout the next couple of months, the coaching staff circled back around and offered him the gig in April and he accepted the next month.

“It’s one of things where everything happens for a reason,” Rufus said. “I am where I am supposed to be. This is a rare chance to go back to your school and coach where you played. I am happy where I am at.”

While he was playing, his status as a team captain seemingly helped him mentally transition into a coaching role before he even knew the opportunity would come.

“I’ve known I want to coach for the last three or four years,” Rufus said. “I just recall being able to work with my teammates and we all come together for a common goal. I like the feeling of helping someone to get better.”

Rufus graduated last May and completed his final season of playing in 2018. He finished his four-year career with the Wolf Pack with 340 career tackles, third-most in program history.

Now that his playing days are over, for now, Rufus isn’t looking back at what could have been, but rather, he’s excited about his new career as a coach.

“I did my best of the opportunity. I never really knew what would happen,” Rufus said. “Nothing is certain in this game. I never had a concrete play because you know it can go so many ways. I can’t say where I will be in 2-3 years. But in five years, I definitely want to be on staff full time somewhere enjoying what I am doing.”

(4) comments

Roy Palomo

Bakersfield being my hometown and now living in Reno, I can say that Asauni Rufus did both Bakersfield and Reno proud with his play and exceptional attitude on, and off the field while here playing for the University of Nevada Reno. Best of luck in everything down the line.


Mr. Rufus has a great attitude and he is utilizing his opportunities. Onward.


One of the best athletes Bakersfield has produced? Batted .167 his Sr year in baseball and quit the team.


Doesn't sound like a quitter to me. What have you done Jimmy?

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