CARY— Cary-Grove offensive lineman Trevor Ruhland is already picturing his first game at Notre Dame.
The ABC cameras broadcasting the prime-time matchup. The Texas Longhorns on the other sideline. Eighty-thousand loyal fans singing the fight song.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” he said. “I’ll probably throw up a couple times before the game.”
Wednesday, Ruhland was surrounded by a bit more modest crowd when he attended a National Letter of Intent ceremony at the school. He committed to Notre Dame on April 24.
About a dozen of his teammates from the Trojans’ Class 7A state runner-up team, several coaches and family members joined Ruhland for the ceremony at Cary-Grove High School.
Standing next to his father, Matt, for pictures, it was clear where the 6-foot-4, 286-pound lineman got his genetics.
“He gets it all from his mom,” joked Matt, who played football at Iowa from 1986-90.
“I remember when I signed my Letter of Intent like it was yesterday,” Matt said. “It was one of the coolest moments I ever had in my life. Just to have my son experience it, that’s pretty cool. I think he’ll remember this day forever.”
Ruhland, who wore a blue Fighting Irish sweatshirt with gold lettering and a green hat, will be part of a 24-player class. Rivals ranks the group 12th in the nation, with 13 four-star recruits and and 11 three-star recruits.
The recruiting site lists Ruhland as the sixth-best prospect in Illinois and the 30th best offensive guard in the nation. He hopes to outplay those projections and bulk up with the help of Notre Dame strength and conditioning coach, Paul Longo, who was coincidentally an assistant on his father’s Iowa team.
“They’re going to get a guy who is kind of underrated,” Ruhland said. “(I’m) going to come in and work hard.”
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly praised Ruhland’s toughness and demeanor during a news conference with reporters in South Bend Wednesday, saying he “never takes a play off.”
“He goes to the echo of the whistle,” Kelly said. “Maybe after the whistle.”
Ruhland hopes to bolster an offensive line that was struggled at times in 2014, allowing 2.33 sacks per game in the regular season. Only 35 of the 125 FBS teams performed worse in pass protection. They also ranked 81st in rushing offense with 150.8 yards per game and 6.33 tackles for a loss per game.
Though the Irish played 13 freshman last season, they return 19 of 22 starters. Ruhland, who underwent surgery last Wednesday to trim a torn meniscus he suffered playing basketball, expects he will redshirt.
“Almost every offensive lineman does that,” he said. “That’s fine. The depth on the offensive line is great. I’m just looking forward to learning as much as I can from the good players like Nick Martin and Ronnie Stanley and hopefully take it from there in a couple years.”