Indiana Wesleyan University, the 97-year-old private Evangelical college in Marion, Ind., is launching a varsity football program for the first time. Saline senior Caleb Rufener, son of Peter and Heidi Rufener, will be part of the new program.
Wednesday at Saline High School, Rufener signed a letter of intent to play football at Indiana Wesleyan.
“I went down to campus and really enjoyed the atmosphere. The coaches were great. The people on campus were great,” Rufener said. “It’s a great opportunity to be part of the first team and build a culture at Indiana Wesleyan. I’m very excited. It’s an awesome opportunity to be able to be part of the first team. It’s something not a lot of athletes have (a chance to experience).”
Rufener said the coaches and Indiana Wesleyan liked how he “plays physical and plays fast.”
When asked about his favorite moments as a Hornet, Rufener went two ways with his answer.
“All the relationships I built have been great – the offensive lineman, I just love those guys,” Rufener said.
Then he smiled.
“And, beating Bedford. That one Bedford victory was one of my favorite moments. It was like 4th-and-20 and we went down the field and scored and it was a great feeling to win,” Rufener said.
Rufener was center for much of his junior year. As a senior he moved right tackle.
Saline head coach Joe Palka said Rufener was an important part of two Saline teams that went undefeated for the last two regular seasons.
“Caleb was a two-year starter. He has great feet and he’s aggressive,” Palka said. “He’s a tenacious player that fits perfectly at the NAIA level. I think he has a chance to be a multi-year starter.”
Rufener is undecided on a major. His favorite subject in high school is history. He also competed in track and field.