Blue and Gold Illustrated

December 2022

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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16 DECEMBER 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY TYLER HORKA I n the midst of a big game during his junior season at St. Louis Lutheran St. Charles High School, Gabriel Rubio found himself in one of the last places he wanted to be. On his back, face up, staring at the bright lights. They were supposed to be shining on him between the white lines, not beam- ing down while he was being attended to by team trainers with gobs of blood dripping down his face. Rubio had an issue with the forehead padding of his helmet slamming into the bridge of his nose that night. The referees continuously sent him off the field any time they saw blood. The last time it occurred, the trainers took matters into their own hands and applied a butterfly bandage. Rubio's fa- ther, Angel, snapped a photo of his son with his eyes closed, wound still hemor- rhaging, displaying a slight smirk. Don't be fooled by the sly smile. It was still one of the last places he wanted to be. "He was pissed," Lutheran St. Charles head coach Arlen Harris told Blue & Gold Illustrated. "Every time he came off, he felt like he was letting his team down." Angel Rubio, Lutheran St. Charles' defensive line coach, remembers his son only missing part of a series during the cleanup procedure. Rubio finished the drive, and the game, to help his team to victory. He received 12 stitches af- terward. Perhaps it was the beginning of Ru- bio, a sophomore defensive tackle for the Fighting Irish, embodying a per- sona Notre Dame defensive line coach Al Washington defines as "Barbarian." That's Washington's calling card for the 6-5 1 ⁄4, 295-pound, eye-black wearing behemoth. "He got the nickname based of my middle-bar facemask," Rubio said. "He was like, 'Man, you must be a rough and tough dude if you're rocking that thing. Not many people rock that anymore.' He was just ecstatic that someone was keeping that old culture alive." One epithet isn't enough to describe Rubio. "He's a warrior," Harris said. "It was ironic that the imagery fit perfectly. He looked exactly like he was out there in the field of battle." That's one of the first places he wants to be. 'DON'T QUIT' Rubio rocks the middle-bar because his dad did. So did Notre Dame's Bryant Young and Tennessee's Reggie White, two Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees. Ru- bio molds his game from that cut of "old culture" cloth. Those are his idols. Given his last name, it was written in The Barbarian Molded by two role models that played in the NFL, Gabriel Rubio is destined for stardom at Notre Dame Rubio, a four-star recruit out of St. Louis in 2021, has seen his playing time steadily climb as the season has worn on. Heading into the regular-season finale at Southern Cal, he had seen action in 10 games and recorded 14 tackles (3 for loss). PHOTO BY TAVAN SMITH

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