Listed Measurements: 6-foot-3 ½, 303 pounds
2017-18 year, eligibility: Junior with three years of eligibility remaining including 2017
Depth chart: Ruhland provides a crucial piece of depth along the interior of the offensive line. Along with fifth-year senior Hunter Bivin, Ruhland could spell either guard.
Recruiting: A rivals.com three-star prospect, Ruhland shut down his recruitment 10 months before National Signing Day even though he had interest from Big Ten schools such as Wisconsin, Nebraska and Minnesota. Rivals rated Ruhland as the No. 6 player in Illinois in 2015 and the No. 30 in the country at his position.
CAREER TO DATE
Ruhland preserved a year of eligibility in 2015 and saw action in nine games last season.
2015 NATIONAL SIGNING DAY HIGHLIGHT REEL
WHAT KEITH ARNOLD PROJECTED A YEAR AGO
“With John Montelus back on the offensive line and shifting outside to right tackle in fall camp, Ruhland will be among the depth battling to get into the two-deep at guard. What looks like a three-man race at right guard likely means Colin McGovern could slide over to the left side behind Nelson, keeping Ruhland as a third-stringer, nothing to be upset about at this point.
“There are opportunities coming — especially with Nelson capable of heading to the NFL after this season and other pieces coming and going. So I’m capping my expectations for Ruhland’s 2016 at a few mop-up time snaps, and maybe securing some special teams work.”
Don’t take this the wrong way: The Irish hope Ruhland does not see much action in 2017. If he does see significant playing time, that is a sign of equally-significant injuries along Notre Dame’s offensive line.
Bivin will be the first backup to see action if fifth-year senior left tackle Mike McGlinchey, senior left guard Quenton Nelson or senior right guard Alex Bars were to suffer an injury. Bivin would also see imminent playing time if senior center Sam Mustipher went down, as Irish coach Brian Kelly has indicated Bars would slide to the middle. If Bivin is already filling in for one of those spots and another injury were to occur, Ruhland would be the likely next man in. (At right tackle, whoever finishes second in the competition between sophomores Tommy Kraemer and Liam Eichenberg will naturally back up the winner.)
This is not an indictment of Ruhland. Depth is needed. This is football, after all. Injuries occur. But Notre Dame would certainly rather escape the season without much more than a turned ankle along the offensive front line.
DOWN THE ROAD
Still largely an unknown, Ruhland will have his chance to make an impression when Nelson heads to the NFL following this season. Along with some of the incoming freshmen — namely Dillan Gibbons and early enrollee Robert Hainsey — Ruhland will be in the mix to fill that starting role. In both last year’s and 2015’s A-to-Z entries regarding Ruhland, Keith preached patience, and rightfully so. The opportunity presented by Nelson’s moving on will be the moment Keith was looking toward for Ruhland’s future.
2017’s Notre Dame 99-to-2
Friday at 4: Goodbye A-to-Z, hello 99-to-2 (May 12)
No. 99: Jerry Tillery, defensive tackle
No. 98: Andrew Trumbetti, defensive end
No. 97: Micah Dew-Treadway, defensive tackle
No. 96: Pete Mokwuah, defensive tackle
No. 95 (theoretically): Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle
No. 94 (theoretically): Kurt Hinish, defensive tackle
No. 93: Jay Hayes, defensive end
No. 92 (theoretically): Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle
No. 91: Ade Ogundeji, defensive end
No. 90 (theoretically): Cole Kmet, tight end
No. 89: Brock Wright, tight end
No. 88: Javon McKinley, receiver
No. 87 (theoretically): Jafar Armstrong, receiver
No. 86: Alizé Mack, tight end
No. 85: Tyler Newsome, punter
No. 84 (theoretically): Michael Young, receiver
No. 83: Chase Claypool, receiver
No. 82: Nic Weishar, tight end
No. 81: Miles Boykin, receiver
No. 80: Durham Smythe, tight end
No. 78: Tommy Kraemer, right tackle
No. 77: Brandon Tiassum, defensive tackle
No. 75: Daniel Cage, defensive tackle
No. 74: Liam Eichenberg, right tackle
No. 73: (theoretically) Josh Lugg, offensive tackle
No. 72: Robert Hainsey, offensive tackle
No. 71: Alex Bars, offensive lineman
No. 70: Hunter Bivin, offensive lineman
No. 69: Aaron Banks, offensive lineman
No. 68: Mike McGlinchey, left tackle
No. 67: Jimmy Byrne, offensive lineman
No. 65: (theoretically) Dillan Gibbons, offensive lineman
No. 58: Elijah Taylor, defensive tackle