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The allure of playing Saturday afternoon college football before 80,000 devoted fans and a national television audience was an irresistible draw for Cary-Grove offensive tackle Trevor Ruhland.
The 6-foot-4, 270-pound junior gave his verbal commitment Wednesday to play for Notre Dame during a meeting at the high school with visiting Irish offensive line coach Harry Hiestand, thereby ending a recruiting process that yielded 13 Division-I offers, five from Big 10 schools.
Ruhland, whose father, Matt, played for Iowa, said he chose Notre Dame over finalists Northwestern and Minnesota.
"I grew up watching them on TV every Saturday, so it's pretty cool to be one of those players competing for championships with those gold helmets on in front of 80,000 people," said Ruhland, who started for Cary-Grove's 2012 Class 6A runner-up. "And it's also only two and a half hours away. I have good support, so it's nice that my family and everyone can come down and watch me play. I am really excited."
Cary-Grove coach Brad Seaburg commended Ruhland's choice.
"When you look at all the offers on the table from all the schools across the country, from an athletic standpoint and from an academic standpoint it's hard to go wrong with Notre Dame," Seaburg said.
Ruhland made four unofficial visits to the South Bend campus, most recently for spring practice the weekend of April 5. That's when the Irish extended the scholarship offer. He made a third unofficial visit to Michigan State the same weekend, but the Spartans never made him an offer.
"They would have been high on my list to consider," Ruhland said, "but I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm very happy with this decision. The process has been hectic, but it was pretty much what I dreamed about as a little kid. Now I can focus on high school football this year and focus on winning a state championship, which is our goal. I think we'll be able to do that."
Ruhland, who turns 17 on May 21, said he will study either business or communications.