Oct. 27, 2011
By Maura Jones
Few players provide the same level of versatility to the Irish team as fifth-year senior Andrew Nuss. Although not a starter, Nuss has played every position on the offensive line at some point. The Ashburn, Va., native played tight end in high school, center in practice and tackle in games, but he is most comfortable at the guard position. With so many positions to memorize, the game is increasingly more challenging.
"I've had so many times where I was thinking that I was at tackle, and I was actually at guard. I do the wrong thing and I get yelled at," Nuss laughs. "It's just about trying to know every position. It's cool to know that if something happens that day - while it would be unfortunate - that I could just step in at any moment to help out the team as best as I can."
His utility and versatility have defined Nuss as a Notre Dame football player. Hard work and focus have made him invaluable, and therefore he returns as an important member of the team. It is hard to believe, considering Nuss' value to the squad, that he almost never played football at all. When he was younger he only watched football on television, and he only tried out for the football his freshman year of high school.
"My mom and dad didn't want me to get hurt, so I ended up playing baseball. When I finally had a chance to play freshman year I thought I'd give it a try and made the most of it, and I had a lot of fun," Nuss remembers.
Throughout high school Nuss proved himself as a tight end and was recognized as a promising recruit. Just before his senior year, Nuss made his official visit to Notre Dame and immediately fell in love with the school. After meeting with the coaching staff, Nuss committed during that first recruiting trip.
"Playing for Notre Dame means everything to me. There is just something about this place. Notre Dame pretty much speaks for itself," Nuss says. "There's the tradition, the eleven national championships, the Heisman winners, and also from the stand point of academics, coming here was really important for me and my family."
Family and academics have both been integral to Nuss' time at Notre Dame. His parents have come to every home game since their son's freshman year, and they are in charge of organizing the players' family tailgate that takes place in the parking lots after all of the home games.
"They even came when I was a freshman and had no chance of seeing the field. I told them they didn't have to come to the game and they could just save some money, but they said, `No we want to come out because we love you, and this is what you love to do, and we want to support you.' I really love that they come out," Nuss says of his parents.
With the encouragement of his family, Nuss has taken full advantage of his academic opportunities at Notre Dame graduating from the number one ranked Mendoza College of Business with a degree in Finance last May. Now enrolled as a graduate student, Nuss credits his parents with instilling in him the importance of academics. Academics were a major contributing factor in his choice to come to Notre Dame.
"Football is great, but it only lasts for a certain amount of time, but then academics can help you continue on further in life, so that was another thing that made it for me," Nuss comments.
In addition to working hard in the classroom, Nuss believes that he has grown in many facets of his life.
"I have to say that Notre Dame really strengthens your faith, so I would say that I have grown in that aspect. Going to church with the team before every game has been kind of cool. Also, in the classroom just being around so many smart kids has been challenging. I'm glad I go to this place because it's going to help me out in the long run," Nuss says, reflecting on his past years. "I feel like I've grown in every way, to be honest."
Throughout his years, Nuss has continued to grow as a member of the Notre Dame football team. This year, helping the team is his first priority. Last year Nuss saw action during all thirteen games as a reserve member of the offensive line and in special teams. Now back as one of only six fifth-year seniors, Nuss is more committed than ever to helping the Irish in any way that he can.
"Hard work and doing the best I can for the team itself is most important," Nuss explains. "Going from team to team and seeing how it comes together in tough times has been huge. We haven't always had the most success in the past couple of years, but each team finds a way to find the bright side, and this year we can do even better than what we have done. It's an exciting team, and I'm very grateful that Coach Kelly let me come back here."
While looking forward to what the remainder of the season holds for him and the team, Nuss reflects on some of the many lessons he has learned during his years on the team. While good experiences make for favorable memories, Nuss noted that there is a lot to be learned from tragedies and upsets.
"I learned a big lesson last year with what happened to Declan and that tragedy. Just knowing that each day could be your last and never taking things for granted is what I learned. That's huge. It was a very unfortunate and sad event, so I'm just thankful that each day I wake up doing what I love - playing football," Nuss reflects.
Appreciative of his time on the team and excited for the future, Nuss believes that he will take away a lot from his Notre Dame experience. Friendships, maturity and knowledge have been some of the greatest gifts he has received. As he leaves Notre Dame at the end of this year, Nuss plans to enter the banking sector in Washington, D.C., with the hopes of going back to graduate school in the future. Regardless of where the future takes him, however, Nuss knows that he will never forget his time at Notre Dame.
"Playing at Notre Dame really stands out more so than playing for any other place in America," Nuss says. "There's something really special about it."