Listed Measurements: 6-foot-3 5/8, 295 pounds
2018-19 year, eligibility: Senior with two seasons of eligibility remaining, including 2018.
Depth chart: Ruhland will likely be listed as Notre Dame’s backup center, behind three-year starter and captain Sam Mustipher. The Irish have only Mustipher as a true center, so finding a veteran who can handle the duties in case of emergency is a paramount necessity.
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 recruit in the country at his position.
CAREER TO DATE
Ruhland has yet to be called upon in a competitive situation. After preserving a year of eligibility as a freshman, he saw action in nine games in 2016 and five blowouts in 2017.
One of this spring’s alignments considered to replace the left-sided duo of Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey included Ruhland at left guard. For a portion of spring practice, he appeared to be under consideration as the starter.
“He’s got a good sense of the position, body awareness in terms of how to leverage,” Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said in late March. “He just has a lot of the traits that allow him to make up for maybe some of the things that some of the other guys have in terms of size and strength. Not that he’s not strong and not that he’s not a big kid, he’s 295 pounds, but he’s a really good technician and he’s really smart, so he makes up for some of those things as an offensive lineman.”
WHAT WAS PROJECTED A YEAR AGO
“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.
“… 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.”
To some degree, the story remains the same regarding Ruhland. If he is playing this fall, it is because someone else got hurt. Once junior Liam Eichenberg stepped forward this spring as a viable left tackle, that allowed junior Tommy Kraemer to slide to guard, and suddenly the open starting spot had been filled by a returning starter, leaving Ruhland as a reserve yet again.
At center, though, that reserve is needed. If Mustipher suffered a minor injury, perhaps a sprained ankle, Ruhland would likely handle that day’s remaining snapping duties, allowing the offensive line to otherwise remain intact. If Mustipher was sidelined for multiple weeks, fifth-year left guard Alex Bars would likely take over snapping duties, and Ruhland would be one of a few options considered to fill in at left guard.
DOWN THE ROAD
Trusted backups are needed, and Kelly has a bit of a track record of welcoming back fifth-year offensive linemen who are little more than utility knifes in the second-unit (see: Bivin, Hunter). Kelly will likely extend that offer to Ruhland next offseason, whether or not he sees Ruhland as a possible starter in 2019.
NOTRE DAME 99-to-2:
No. 99 Jerry Tillery, defensive tackle, senior
No. 97 Micah Dew-Treadway, defensive tackle, senior
No. 95 Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle, sophomore
No. 94 Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle, sophomore
No. 93 (theoretically) Ja’Mion Franklin, defensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 91 Ade Ogundeji, defensive end, junior
No. 90 (theoretically) Tommy Tremble, tight end, incoming freshman
No. 89 Brock Wright, tight end, sophomore
No. 88 Javon McKinley, receiver, junior
No. 87 Michael Young, receiver, sophomore
No. 86 Alizé Mack, tight end, senior
No. 85 George Takacs, tight end, early-enrolled freshman
No. 85 Tyler Newsome, punter and captain, fifth-year senior
No. 84 Cole Kmet, tight end, sophomore
No. 83 Chase Claypool, receiver, junior
No. 82 Nic Weishar, tight end, fifth-year senior
No. 81 Miles Boykin, receiver, senior
No. 80 Micah Jones, receiver, early-enrolled freshman
No. 79 (theoretically) Cole Mabry, offensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 78 Tommy Kraemer, right guard, junior
No. 77 (theoretically) Jarrett Patterson, offensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 76 Dillan Gibbons, offensive lineman, sophomore
No. 75 Josh Lugg, offensive lineman, sophomore
No. 74 Liam Eichenberg, starting left tackle, junior
No. 73 (theoretically) Luke Jones, offensive lineman, incoming freshman
No. 72 Robert Hainsey, right tackle, sophomore
No. 71 Alex Bars, left guard and captain, fifth-year senior
No. 70 (theoretically) John Dirksen, offensive lineman, incoming freshman
No. 69 Aaron Banks, offensive tackle, sophomore
No. 11 Freddy Canteen, receiver, outgoing transfer