Junior tight end Kyle Rudolph will have surgery this week and will miss the rest of the football season, Irish coach Brian Kelly announced Tuesday.
“There was an evulsion of both tendons on his hamstring; in other words, they came off the bone, so that’s going to require surgery,” Kelly said in his weekly press conference. “And right now, his family is putting together, really, you know, the doctor, who is going to do the surgery, the rehab, all of those things.”
Rudolph had struggled with hamstring since injuring it during a one-on-one drill over the summer, and said he never felt 100 percent after that.
“It’s definitely frustrating, especially when you deal with something for so long,” Rudolph said. “You know, you’re just trying to get over it week in and week out.”
Kelly said Rudolph’s injury was aggravated during Notre Dame’s game against Pittsburgh Saturday. Rudolph did not play in the fourth quarter of that game.
“It was during the game. He felt very good before the game. Exertion, you know, obviously, caused the injury,” Kelly said. “You know, he tried to play through it. … He’s a courageous kid and he’s tried to fight through it. Unfortunately it’s led to, you know, him being sidelined for the season.”
Later, Rudolph found out that of three tendons attached to the bone, two had been torn off.
“I don’t regret playing in any of the games that I played in,” Rudolph said. “In all actuality, it was my decision to go when I did and go as hard as I did.”
Rudolph, a pre-season All-American, had 28 receptions for 328 yards and three touchdowns in the first six games of the season. The numbers include a 95-yard touchdown reception against Michigan on Sept. 11.
“You lose one of the best tight ends in the country. That’s a loss,” Kelly said. “But, you know, not one player is going to stop what we do. It’s a next-man in philosophy for us, [sophomore] Tyler Eifert, [senior] Mike Ragone, [sophomore Jake] Golic; those guys are going to have to step up and play the position for us at a high level. We think those guys can. We have a lot of confidence in them.”
Rudolph’s surgery will require six months of recovery, but Rudolph said he would work with his back-ups however he can.
“I’m going to be out here every day after my surgery as quick as I can to help those guys, whether it’s game plan or just stuff on a weekly basis that they’re not really used to dealing with,” Rudolph said. “They’ve taken the reps, that won’t be a big problem for them.”
Rudolph will be eligible to enter the 2011 NFL draft, but said he is not looking that far ahead.
“The surgery right now is what’s most important,” he said.