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Relentless Rubio Honing Craft

February 5, 2020

The scene never fails to make Arlen Harris halt his steps in the Lutheran of St. Charles County High School parking lot.

Invariably, Harris sees his Lutheran program’s star player --- Gabriel Rubio‍ --- honing his craft on the football field.

With or without the benefit of others for assistance. Without, save his coach’s stares on his way home, anyone watching.

“There will be times that I’m walking to the car, and Gabe will be out there by himself,” Harris told “He’s doing hand combat, extra sprinting. Even when we had 7-on-7 skills stuff, he would still come and support his teammates. This kid gets it.

“It’s awesome, because he’s not just a leader on our team, and it gives something for the kids to shoot for. ‘Here’s an example of what it looks if I want to play at that level.’”

A Rivals top-100 player and the first defensive commitment in Notre Dame’s 2021 class when he pledged in June, Rubio was back in South Bend over the weekend for the Fighting Irish’s junior day.

The 6-foot-5, 303-pounder left entrenched in his commitment and bent on helping add some defensive pledges to his signing class.

“100-percent, no doubt about it,” Rubio, who will sign in December and enroll in January, said of his commitment. “I had a small meeting with (ND coach Brian Kelly) before we went out for a presentation about academics. We were just talking about building up a program to become national champions is hard work and how we need all the puzzle pieces to fit correctly together.”

That’s the message Rubio is extending to fellow recruits.

“Yeah, it’s every college’s goal to become a national champion,” said the consensus four-star defensive lineman, “and I believe that in the next coming years, we have the chance to become a national champion.”

Harris isn’t picking against his standout, mainly because he continues to see Rubio’s ongoing progression.

“I saw him as a pup; I actually was aware of him as a youth,” Harris said. “This past year, I always tell those guys, ‘It’s time to throw your flag in the ground. You’re a Notre Dame commit.’ Numerous times he had some sacks, exploded on the quarterback, beat two double-teams and tracked the ball down from the backside. When he was younger he wouldn’t have made those plays.

“But he moves great. I literally just told him, ‘They’re going to start looking at you doing some double-tight stuff at tight end. He’s carrying his weight so well.”

Don’t tell Rubio; he’s relentless in his quest to improve.

“One of the biggest things that I need to work on is hand-placement, reading the blocks, extending out and reading the man across from me,” Rubio said. “It’s not easy to do that after years of not doing it correctly. So I’m trying to get all the kinks out and work to get better at this sort of new form of craft that I’m trying to make. That’s one of the main things, and other than that, getting faster is a big priority.

“So this summer, in June, I’m going down to Louisiana for something calling the Pete Jenkins Lineman Camp [which Rubio also attended last summer]. It’s a three-day work camp; there’s no 1-on-1s at all. It’s learning all technique and everything that you need to know about stopping the run dead in its tracks. It’s a great learning opportunity and I really want to see a bunch more guys come out to it. I’m bringing some of my teammates, and I’m more than happy to see all these other recruits come down to Louisiana because it is a top-notch camp.”

Rubio’s also working to enhance his versatility along the defensive front, after spending time on this trip with future position coach Mike Elston and learning he could play as many as three positions on the line for the Irish.

“(Elston’s) message towards me is that he wants me to play in a 3-technique to maybe a 4 and possibly slide down into a 1,” Rubio said, “and use me as a big body for penetration and a lot of run-stopping, pass-rush. Stuff like that.”

Rubio is planning to be back at Notre Dame next month and expects to visit again in April.

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