Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 9, 2013 Issue

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

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Page 97 of 104

where have you gone? Byron Spruell, 1983-87 Offensive Tackle Former Irish captain reaches a new leadership milestone at global company By Dan Murphy T he aftershocks of a high school knee injury kept Notre Dame lineman Byron Spruell on the sidelines during his freshman year with the Irish in 1983 — a hard pill to swallow for an eager 18-year-old high-school star. His ailing knee, though, set Spruell up for a rare-at-the-time fifth season with the Irish, one in which the program swung out of a decade-long funk while he pointed himself down a path that has led to a fast and steady climb in the corporate world. A generation ago it was rare to see a fifth-year senior on Notre Dame's roster. The university once frowned upon the idea of extending a player's stay for an extra season if he had eligibility remaining because of a previous injury or lack of playing time. Even now, the Irish program tiptoes around the semantics of "redshirting." The arcane thought was that allowing the football team to schedule an extra season put athletics ahead of academics on the priority list. Spruell is clear evidence to the contrary. The 1987 team under head coach Lou Holtz was something of a turning point for fifth-year seniors. That fall, Spruell served as a fifth-year senior team captain for the 1987 Notre Dame team that finished 8-4 and was ranked as high as No. 7 in the nation in late November. photo courtesy notre dame media relations Spruell was one of four starting offensive linemen who were spending their fifth seasons in a blue-and-gold uniform. He and fellow graduate Chuck Lanza, the starting center, served as the team's co-captains. Off the field, Spruell opted to use his final season on scholarship to start his master's of business administration degree in

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