Notre Dame football kickoff countdown previews No. 97 Gabriel Rubio

With 97 days until the Notre Dame football season officially kicks off, we're looking at a different player every day, starting with Gabriel Rubio.
Notre Dame football No. 97, Gabriel Rubio
Notre Dame football No. 97, Gabriel Rubio / MATTIE NERETIN / USA TODAY NETWORK

We've officially entered the countdown to the Notre Dame football season, with less than 100 days to go. As part of our exciting build-up to what promises to be a stellar campaign, we'll be spotlighting a different player from the Fighting Irish roster each day. 

Curious about how we're choosing the player to feature each day? It's a fun twist: we're highlighting a player who wears the same number as the number of days left until the Irish start their season

The first player to get this treatment is an interesting one, if only because it's not entirely clear if he'll ever be on the Notre Dame football roster again. Getting off to a weird start seems in keeping with what this season could be all about.

Notre Dame football kickoff countdown previews No. 97 Gabriel Rubio

Gabriel Rubio is an interesting case because the defensive lineman is weighing whether or not to return to Notre Dame.

Irish head coach Marcus Freeman announced earlier this spring that Rubio stepped away from the team. He added that the defender wasn't leaving the school entirely just yet. The door was open for him to return if he decided to.

However, to deal with a "personal matte," he wasn't taking classes in the spring semester. Now that the semester is over, Freeman and company will almost certainly look to keep in contact with him and see if he might be willing to come back.

It's clear why Notre Dame would love to have Rubio back. In high school, he was rated as a four-star recruit by 247Sports, ESPN, and Rivals. His best season in South Bend so far was his sophomore campaign in 2022. That year he finished with 17 total tackles, 6 solo. He also had 4 tackles for loss as a force in the run defense.

Last year, he played in just 9 games thanks to a knee injury. In those 9 contests, he racked up 11 tackles, and batted down one pass at the line of scrimmage. He also tallied 5 quarterback hurries and forced a fumble. 

Gabriel Rubio was expected to play a bigger part for the Notre Dame football team in 2024, though that's obviously a bigger question 97 days out from the season.