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Trevor Ruhland blocks out the noise, overcomes adversity as he caps off Irish football career

| Friday, November 22, 2019

Asked about his favorite memory with Notre Dame football, Trevor Ruhland pauses before recalling his second career start for the Irish.

The offensive lineman was a senior and his 5-0 Notre Dame squad was playing at Virginia Tech, a hostile environment that was amped up at the possibility of ending Notre Dame’s unbeaten run. 

Observer File Photo
Irish graduate student offensive lineman Trevor Ruhland takes the field before Notre Dame’s 56-27 win over Wake Forest on Sept. 22, 2018 at BB&T Field.

“I loved getting booed when we run out, and then the stadium is empty at the end of the game,” Ruhland said. “We beat them pretty well — it was really cool.” 

There’s a lot of players who enjoy playing in a raucous setting, but it is particularly fitting given how much Ruhland enjoyed overcoming adversity in Blacksburg, Virginia. Ruhland’s entire footall career has been full of adversity, and he has triumphed every time.

This Saturday, Ruhland will play in his 30th game with the Irish, an impressive total for the amount of injuries he has sustained. Ruhland has been victimized by a trio of knee surgeries, a broken elbow, broken nose, a broken ankle, torn pecs and a torn labrum. 

“It’s been really hard,” Ruhland said. “There’s been days where you wake up and you’re like ‘why am I doing this. But in the end, it makes it all worth this and I wouldn’t change anything.”

Ruhland was one of 10 scholarship freshman on the roster when he enrolled in Notre Dame, but heading to South Bend had not been his initial plan.

“I didn’t necessarily grow up a Notre Dame fan,” Ruhland said. “Both my parents went to Iowa. But that didn’t work out, so I was kind of browsing around. This is just two hours from home [Cary, Illinois], and I thought it was a great chance to mix academics and football.” 

Ruhland spent his freshman year on scout team before playing 14 games the next two seasons as a reserve offensive linemen. His senior year, he became a starter during Notre Dame’s run to the College Football Playoffs, and he has continued to excel in that role this year, anchoring an offensive line which ranks 15th in the country with just 13 sacks allowed. 

Ruhland has been a warrior on the gridiron, but he immersed himself in Notre Dame’s intense academic culture and embraced the school’s distinct dorm life. Now a graduate student, Ruhland finished his undergraduate career last spring as a management consulting major.

“I wanted to do business, and I thought this encompassed my skills which are speaking in public, doing presentations, and stuff like that,” Ruhland said. 

One way to get away from the academic and athletic grind at Notre Dame was to embrace the community service that the football team does each year — something Ruhland has done wholeheartedly.

“One of my favorite things we do is called ‘Shop with a Player,’” Ruhland said. “Each player gets paired with a little kid and we go shopping with them. We give them like $200 to get their Christmas gifts. You expect them to be like, ‘I want this toy and that toy’ but honestly they’re more like ‘I want to get this for my brother, that for my mom.’ It’s really cool, it’s one of the best things we do here.” 

In his time not spent in the classroom or with the football team, Ruhland thoroughly enjoyed Notre Dame’s dorm culture, having spent his time on campus in Siegfried Hall.

“Shoutout to the Ramblers, ramble on,” Ruhland said. “I had a really good group of friends in Siegfried Hall. It was so good to leave football and go play video games and get away from all the noise.” 

Ruhland may enjoy his down time away from the noise, but when that noise and adversity comes back, he has proven time and time again he won’t back down — just ask Virginia Tech.

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About Aidan Thomas

A junior marketing and ACMS major at Notre Dame, I've countered the success I've enjoyed as a New England sports fan with the painful existence of a Notre Dame football fan.

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