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Daniel Eugene "Rudy" Ruettiger

Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger dressed in his #45 for the Georgia Tech game
Notre Dame Fighting IrishNo. 45
Defensive End 1976
Major: Sociology
Date of birth: August 23, 1948 (1948-08-23) (age 61)
Place of birth: Joliet, Illinois
Height: 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m) Weight: 165 lb (75 kg)
Career history
High school: Joliet Catholic High School
Bowl games
Career highlights and awards
One of only two players to have been carried off the field at Notre Dame.

Daniel Eugene "Rudy" Ruettiger (born August 23, 1948 in Joliet, Illinois, United States) is a motivational speaker and former collegiate football player best known as the inspiration for the motion picture Rudy.


Early life and college career

Daniel Ruettiger (nicknamed "Rudy") had a hard time in school because he was dyslexic, and grew up in a lower-middle class household, the third of fourteen children. He attended Joliet Catholic Academy, where he played for locally famous coach Gordie Gillespie and led the team in tackles his junior and senior years.

After two years at Holy Cross College, and three rejections to transfer to the University of Notre Dame, Ruettiger was accepted as a student in the fall of 1974. It was during his time studying at Holy Cross that Ruettiger discovered he had dyslexia.

Ruettiger harbored a dream to play for Ara Parseghian and the Fighting Irish football team, despite being merely 5'6" and 165 pounds.[1] Parseghian encouraged walk-on players from the student body. For example, Notre Dame's 1969 starting center, Mike Oriard, was a walk-on who eventually won a Rhodes Scholarship and an NFL contract with the Kansas City Chiefs.[2]

Ruettiger earned a place on the Notre Dame scout team, a practice-squad that helps the varsity team practice for games. Merv Johnson was the coach who was instrumental at keeping Rudy on as a scout team player.

After Parseghian stepped down after the 1974 season, Dan Devine was named head coach. In Ruettiger's last opportunity to play for Notre Dame at home, Devine put him into a game as defensive end against Georgia Tech on November 8, 1975. In the movie Rudy, Devine is given a somewhat antagonistic role, not wanting Rudy to dress for his last game. However, during the actual game, Devine reportedly came up with the idea to dress Rudy. In the final play of Ruettiger's senior season with the Fighting Irish, he recorded a sack, which is all his Notre Dame stat line has ever shown. Ruettiger was carried off the field by his teammates following the game. Ruettiger actually played for two plays. The first time he was unable to get to the quarterback, but on the second play he sacked the Georgia Tech quarterback, Rudy Allen.[3]

Ruettiger is one of two players in Notre Dame history ever to be carried off the field by his teammates. The other is Marc Edwards.[4][5]

After college

On October 14, 2005, Ruettiger was the master of ceremonies at a pep rally for Notre Dame Football. The Fighting Irish were about to play rival and then #1-ranked University of Southern California (USC) the following day and Head Coach Charlie Weis asked some Notre Dame legends, including Tim Brown and Joe Montana, to come back and speak at the rally. Ruettiger came out of the tunnel at Notre Dame Stadium to a loud ovation.[6]

In 1997 Ruettiger and his wife Cheryl founded the Rudy Foundation. The Rudy Foundation created the Rudy Award Program to benefit children's advocacy programs.[7] The inaugural 2007 College Football Rudy Award was held on 8 January 2008 at the OpryLand Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee.[8] The College Football Rudy Award was created by the Rudy Foundation and honors Division I football players who demonstrate what Ruettiger refers to as "The Four C's": character, courage, contribution and commitment as a member of their team.[9] The 2007 award was presented to Terry Clayton of the University of Kentucky Wildcats and the 2008 award was presented to Drew Combs of the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs.

In July 2009, Ruettiger was initiated into the Kappa Sigma Fraternity at the National Convention in San Antonio, Texas.[10]

In September 2009, the Rudy Foundation and Trusted Sports launched the High School Football Rudy Awards, which aims to uncover the "Rudy" in every High School football team in America. The Award is presented to the most inspirational High School football player who personifies the "The Four C's": Courage, Character, Commitment and Contribution. Inspired by the College Football Rudy Awards, three finalists will receive college scholarships totalling $20,000, and the finalist will be presented with The Rudy Award by Ruettiger at an event in March, 2010.

In film

Ruettiger's story was told in the 1993 film Rudy, which starred actor Sean Astin in the title role as Rudy. The film was written by Angelo Pizzo, directed by David Anspaugh and produced by Rob Fried, the award-winning team that created Hoosiers. Ruettiger appeared in a cameo as a fan behind Rudy's father and brother during the final scene.[11]


  • Rudy's Insights for Winning in Life ISBN 9780965811910
  • Rudy's Lessons for Young Champions ISBN 9780965811903
  • Rudy & Friends ISBN 9781880692394
  • Dream Power (audio cassette)




  • Pagna, Tom, "Notre Dame's Era of Ara", Diamond Communications, Inc., 1976, ISBN 0-912083-74-3, pp 182-183, regarding Parseghian's use of walk-ons.

External links



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