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Andrew Nuss: Nuss switches sides of ball early in ND

Chris Allen | Thursday, November 11, 2010

When offensive lineman Andrew Nuss first stepped onto the field of Notre Dame Stadium during his freshman year, he envisioned some of his greatest moments in an Irish uniform happening when he chased after opposing quarterbacks.

Little did he know then that his career would center around protecting quarterbacks on the other side of the ball.

Before the change could be made, the six-foot-five senior from Virginia had to experience a moment of self-realization.

“My freshman summer, when I got here in training camp I was on the defensive side of the ball,” Nuss said. “It was a lot of fun, but I realized I’m not really athletic. I realized I should try offense instead.”

Long before he considered his prospects on the offensive line, Nuss was a four-star recruit who started his college search looking for a school that could provide him with the perfect mix of academics and athletic accommodations. Though a dozen schools offered him spots, when Notre Dame came calling, he couldn’t resist.

“I visited every school because I wanted to give every school a fair chance,” Nuss said. “When I was offered by Notre Dame, I was like, well, this is what every kid grows up wanting. When I visited in the summer, it was basically, ‘I’m done, I’ve found everything I wanted.'”

When Nuss arrived on campus, the coaching staff, led by former Irish coach Charlie Weis and offensive line coach John Latina, convinced Nuss to switch to the offensive line to help him best realize his potential.

“Coach Weis asked me what I wanted to be. I told him I wanted to be a playmaker. Turned out to be the opposite,” Nuss said. “I made the switch after the Michigan game my freshman year. [Latina] who was the offensive line coach back then basically told me that my future here at Notre Dame was on the offensive line. When I made the switch, a bunch of guys helped me out along the way, namely [former center] Eric Olsen and [offensive lineman] Dan Wenger. I loved it.”

Eventually, Nuss worked his way into the rotation along the line, making his way into two games during the 2008 season and impacting special teams.

“Sophomore year was great,” he said. “I got to play a little bit, got to play in the Navy game, and then obviously the Hawaii Bowl was a great trip.”

With another year of practice under his belt, Nuss found himself playing a big role in the 2009 opener against Nevada, where he had one of his favorite moments of his career.

“There was a screen, and I was just running downfield as fast as I could. I thought I was running really fast, but I wasn’t,” Nuss said. “All of a sudden out of nowhere I saw a corner coming at me and I just cut him really bad and sprung Michael Floyd on a 40-yard play. After that I was so pumped, but I was extremely tired at the end of it.”

Nuss played in 13 games in 2009, ranking sixth on the team in special teams appearances, seeing significant time as an offensive guard and flourishing under the coaching of new offensive line coach Frank Verducci. After the coaching change in the off-season, Nuss has maintained his role as a strong special-teams contributor while seeing duty along the offensive line.

As he approaches the end of his senior season, he said he believes attending Notre Dame was the right decision.

“It’s definitely a lot harder than I thought it was going to be,” Nuss said. “But overall, I think I would do it again if I could.”

Once the football schedule comes to a close, Nuss plans to pursue a job in the financial industry, a path that began with a position change in the business school similar to the one he made on the field.

“All of my friends were doing marketing,” he said. “I said, ‘Oh, I don’t want to do marketing, I want to be different.’ I chose finance, and sometimes I regret being a finance major because it’s so hard. I really do enjoy stocks and mutual bonds and all that stuff, though. I find it very interesting.”