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Football: Athletes apply for fifth-year eligibility

Observer Staff Report | Friday, January 28, 2011

Six football players will apply for a fifth year next season, the University announced Thursday.

Seniors Taylor Dever, Gary Gray, Andrew Nuss, Mike Ragone, David Ruffer and Harrison Smith will apply to Notre Dame’s Faculty Board on Athletics to receive one more year of eligibility.

Dever, an offensive tackle from Nevada City, Calif., started 10 games for the Irish this season and appeared in one more.

Gray, a cornerback from Columbia, S.C., spent his freshman year recovering from shoulder surgery. This season, he started every game, notching one interception and ranking third on the team with 66 tackles.

Nuss, an offensive guard from Ashburn, Va., played in 12 games for Notre Dame this season, missing only the season-opener against Purdue.

Ragone, a tight end from Cherry Hill, N.J., caught three passes for 32 yards, and was forced into a larger role when starter Kyle Rudolph was lost for the season with a hamstring injury. With Rudolph departing early for the NFL, Ragone will likely see significant action next year as well.

Ruffer, a kicker from Oakton, Va., walked onto the team in 2008 and was named the starter before the 2010 season. He set a Notre Dame record by converting on the first 23 field goal attempts of his career. The streak finally came to an end when he missed a 36-yard attempt in the Sun Bowl against Miami. Kelly confirmed last week that Ruffer would be awarded a scholarship for next season.

Smith, a safety from Knoxville, Tenn., was perhaps Notre Dame’s most improved player this season. He finished second on the team with 93 tackles. Despite having no interceptions coming into the season, Smith posted a team-high seven picks in 2010, including a game-clincher against USC and three in the Sun Bowl win against Miami. He was named a 2011 captain at Saturday’s awards banquet.