Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2024

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

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16 FEBRUARY 2024 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY JACK SOBLE O n Dec. 30, the day after the Sun Bowl, Eli Raridon flew home to West Des Moines, Iowa. As soon as he got off the plane, he called Steve Giblin, his personal trainer and a friend of his family. "Can we lift tomorrow?" Raridon asked Giblin. Raridon wanted to hit the weight room every day of the rest of winter break, which ends Jan. 16. Giblin hap- pily obliged. The Notre Dame sopho- more tight end hasn't had a day off yet, including New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. Giblin is a friend of Raridon's grand- father, Scott Raridon Sr., who was the Notre Dame strength coach under Lou Holtz. He later worked with Eli's dad, Scott Raridon Jr., who played offensive line for the Irish from 2003-06. He's known the youngest Raridon since he was born, and that story was the best way he could describe his work ethic. It's the work ethic that allowed Rari- don to come back from two right ACL tears in 10 months, the latter of which knocked him out of game action for just less than a year. But as he found out late in the process, he couldn't lift himself over every hurdle. "It's hard," Raridon said. "I didn't play football for a year. I had to get used to blocking guys again. It took me a couple weeks to get back in the groove of playing again. It just happened over time, really." THREE MORE MONTHS Raridon suffered his second ACL tear in his right knee during practice in Oc- tober 2022, just a few months after he was cleared to play following the first one. Dr. Brian Ratigan, Notre Dame's head of orthopedic sports medicine and the orthopedic surgeon who oper- ated on Raridon's knee, told him and his family to expect three more months of rehab than he had for his first tear. Fortunately for Raridon, it was a clean tear. There was no damage to the menis- cus or anything aside from his ACL. And regardless, Raridon grew up well-off and told his dad at the time that he rec- ognized that his adversity wasn't much compared to some of his peers. When he got the news that he'd need to go under the knife again, Raridon had as positive of an outlook as he could. He leaned on his faith and looked at the bigger picture. "He took it as, count his blessings, No. 1, and then No. 2, 'Hey, I'm gonna use this opportunity to make me stron- ger and better mentally and physically Five games into his comeback, Raridon (No. 9) made his first collegiate start Nov. 18 against Wake Forest, recording his first catch and touchdown among his 3 receptions totaling 39 yards. PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER MIND OVER MATTER Sophomore tight end Eli Raridon fought through physical and mental hurdles to recover from a second ACL tear

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