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Notre Dame Football

Billy Schrauth: ‘I owe my evolution to my teammates’

November 17, 2023

Coming out of spring ball, it seemed like a foregone conclusion: Billy Schrauth would start at left guard by the start of the season in Dublin, Ireland.

The biggest question was who would garner the other guard spots. Rocco Spindler? Andrew Kristofic?

Only that isn’t how competition shook out early in fall camp. Pat Coogan switched from center to guard and relied on his experience to beat out the uber-talented Schrauth. Meanwhile, Spindler proved too good to keep off the field and earned a starting role on the right side.

A disappointed Schrauth didn’t let the position battle loss setback his development. He took the coach Joe Rudolph’s decision in stride and kept grinding to become more assignment-correct.

“We’ve got a lot of great players in this university,” Schrauth said. “Of course, I expected myself to, I don’t know, be one of those guys. Not everything goes as planned. That’s part of it. I’ve got great people ahead of me, and I’ve got great people below me. 

“This period has been just as valuable for me and for everybody in our group.”

The sophomore still filled a reserve role throughout the season, earning 76 snaps between the two guard positions throughout seven games.

That includes six snaps last Saturday, entering the game for an injured Spindler. The junior right guard had torn his MCL, prematurely ending his season.

“I don't know if he'll be a 100 percent full go for spring ball just because you're gonna miss some of the winter conditioning in phase,” coach Marcus Freeman said, “but we expect to see him back as we get ready for spring.”

As a result, Schrauth will be the starter for the season's final three games, beginning with Notre Dame’s home finale against Wake Forest (4-6) on Saturday.

It’ll be the first start of his career, and he’s leaning on the man he replaced to prepare for it.

“Rocco’s been great, too,” Schrauth said. “I talk to Rocco pretty much every day, asking him questions, asking him anything – about life, about ball. He’s really helpful, a great teammate.”

He also credits Josh Lugg and other former and current Notre Dame offensive linemen for teaching him how to play the game the right way. 

“I owe my evolution to my teammates,” Schrauth said. “They’ve been pushing me a lot. I put a lot of pressure on myself, too. It’s been good. It’s been good to see the progression, but it’s been hard, and I’ve had to put a lot of work in. Just a lot of gratitude.”

On Saturday, Schrauth will likely line up next to fellow sophomore Ashton Craig, who’s expected to fill in for Zeke Correll at center. Correll is questionable against Wake Forest as he works through concussion protocol. 

Both sophomores have stepped up in practice throughout the week as the team prepares for the Demon Deacons. 

“Ashton and Billy, they’re definitely stepping up in bigger roles,” running back Audric Estimé said. “You can see their confidence growing week by week. It’s incredible.”

In addition to his teammates, Schrauth pulls from his life experiences. 

He has seven siblings and grew up doing yard work and other forms of manual labor to help the family business

“It taught me nothing is given to you,” Schrauth said. “Everything is earned. The more I go through my life, the more I think of that saying. It’s so true. I wouldn’t want it any other way. I wouldn’t want to be handed anything. 

“I want it to be earned. I want to feel that feeling of earning the opportunity, of earning what’s in front of me.”

That blue-collar work ethic is paying off as the promising young offensive line continues his development at Notre Dame. 

Next spring, he’ll likely need to compete for a starting job once again. Schrauth intends to stay the course, keep his head down and work hard.

Thanks to his family and life at Notre Dame, that's all he's known. 

“I’ve seen my parents go to work early in the morning every day growing up,” Schrauth said. “That was instilled in me. That doesn’t change at all, especially coming here. All my teammates all are the same. That’s what makes this place such a strong and great place. 

“Our culture is built in because we have so many of those guys who just are all wired pretty much the same.”

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