Notre Dame Placekicker: a Contemporary “Rudy”



The story of a walk-on making a big name for himself in college football is extremely rare. The biggest one of all, Daniel F. “Rudy” Ruettiger occurred at Notre Dame in the 1970s. You know it from the 1993 film “Rudy,” quite possibly the best football movie ever made. But there’s a similar plot-line occurring within Notre Dame’s current football program.

And it involves David Ruffer, a walk-on who now holds the school record for most consecutive field goals. And he did it with a 50-yarder in the win over Pittsburgh.

I should also mention that he’s never missed a Field Goal attempt in his two seasons (17 for 17 over 10 games).

By Paul M. Banks

I caught up to Ruffer after the win against Pittsburgh, which was a banner day for him. Ruffer is known for his strong work ethic, and for being a well-accomplished high school golfer. His current handicap is about 5, but he was a scratch in high school.

His golf background has been an essential part of his kicking success.

“Yes, there’s definitely some correlation, the key point is you have to keep your head down and follow through, because if you come off it a little bit, come out a little bit, the ball is not gonna fly straight,” Ruffer said,

“So the golf background has definitely helped me understand what the ball is going to do.”

Ruffer claims his range is anywhere from the 35 on in, so he’s pretty comfortable with attempting 52 and 53-yarders. His career best 50-yard field goal in the win over Pitt initiated him into an elite club of ND placekickers; only 6 in school history have ever reached the half-century mark.

Ruffer’s banner performance came on a hot, 85 degree day, which was unseasonably warm for mid-October. I asked him if he has a weather preference to kick in.

“Today was better than last week. Football is a lot like golf, when it gets cold out the ball doesn’t compress as much and it doesn’t fly as well, but today it was awesome, perfect temperature, the ball was jumping a bit,” he responded.

The senior from Oakton, VA started his college education at William and Mary but always felt a strong attraction to the South Bend school where he has a family legacy. “The Notre Dame gene is kind of in my blood, my Dad went here, my grandfather went here, a bunch of uncles,” he said.

Ruffer’s field goal streak is tied for the longest active streak in the country with Utah’s Joe Phillips.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports , a Midwest webzine. He’s also a regular contributor to the Tribune’s Chicago Now network, Walter, Yardbarker Network, and Fox

You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank

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