Shortly after getting the chance to fill in for an injured starter on the offensive line, Russ Ude went down with an injury of his own that would end his sophomore season at Atlanta’s Westminster School last fall.
It was a big blow for the 6-foot-3, 245-pounder who was hoping to attract collegiate interest during the season. He knew he would have to make the most of his summer and he has.
“Everything is going really well,” he said.
Ude currently holds offers from North Carolina State, Boston College, Georgia Tech, Mississippi State, TCU, Vanderbilt and West Virginia.
“It’s great,” Ude said. “To be honest, I was kind of expecting it, but I was expecting it to come during my season, but obviously that didn’t happen with the injuries. I went into this summer looking to take care of business, go out there and make a name for myself and I think I did a good job of doing what I had to do.”
Ude landed the offer from Boston College back in the spring, but the other five all came last month.
“It definitely takes a little bit of stress off you because there are points when you can start to doubt yourself when things go a little slow,” he admitted. “At the same time, I was also confident in my abilities and first of all, confident in God and knowing He would take control and whatever His plan for me was would happen. I was just doing what I knew I needed to do, working hard every day and going out and finding opportunities wherever they were to get my name out there.”
Ude isn’t quite ready to name any leaders, but there are some schools that are sticking out to him, including some that haven’t offered just yet.
“I’m really liking everybody that’s offered me right now,” he said. “A lot of schools that have great academics and great football stick out to me and schools that play in good conferences.
“I’ve always loved Stanford and USC, I’ve always been a USC fan even though they’re rivals with Notre Dame. I definitely have always loved those schools. A couple other schools are sticking out, Notre Dame of course, UCLA, Vanderbilt, TCU.”
Ude was impressed with TCU assistant Rusty Burns during a visit in early-July while he says he’ll always appreciate Boston College being the first to offer.
“Coach Burns actually came back from vacation a day early to come show me around,” said Ude. “I felt that was a huge gesture on his part and showed how much they really want me and that meant a lot.”
“Of course Boston College, coming through more than two months before everybody else and pulling the trigger on me, taking that metaphorical leap of faith, that means a lot and they will always be in the mix because of that and two of my teammates are committed there right now.”
Focused on finding a great blend of football and academics, Ude had been hoping to hear from Notre Dame from the start. He eventually touched base with the Irish via social media.
“Some of the Notre Dame coaches have been more in contact with my recruiting coordinator," he said.
“I know that he’s spoken with them at length on multiple occasions about me. I think as things continue to pick up as far as more big-time schools offering me scholarships that Notre Dame could end up pulling the trigger pretty soon.”
The Irish have made it clear that their initial focus for 2015 is on the offensive line, but they’ve also told Ude he’s at the top of the list of at other prospects to evaluate.
“It feels great, but at the same time, I take it with a grain salt,” said Ude. “Anybody can say things, it’s about seeing it in action.”
Ude isn’t about to relax now.
“I don’t want to get complacent,” he said. “I definitely want to continue to work and creating a head of steam for myself as far as recruiting goes. It definitely means a lot that I’m in pretty high standing with them from what he tells me.”
Westminster has already started preseason practice with a scrimmage on August 16th and the opening game set for August 23rd.
“First of all, I definitely have to stay healthy,” he said. “I’m definitely confident in my abilities. This year, I feel like I have a better understanding of our defensive scheme as last year was my first year playing varsity football. I started a lot more games on offense because there was more of a need there.
“This year I definitely feel like staying healthy is the most important and secondly going out there, dominating and showing why I should be one the top-rated guys in the 2015 class.”