By Omar Ureña
A fire warrior heads to South Bend inspired by his family. Gabe Rubio has finally signed his letter and is ready to begin his own legacy as part of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. His father Angel started his journey in Ceres, California and moved away from home to study and play football in Missouri. Gabe knows that the road was not easy and he has a lot of respect for his dad. Señor Angel made his way to the NFL playing for the Arizona Cardinals. He was always a California dreamer who had the vision of inheriting his children, the passion to fight for their dreams. It’s been a long way from Mexico to South Bend, because his family was already in San Bernardino when California was part of Mexico.
Gabe is an extraordinary kid with a big heart and a hunger that is required to devour offenses in every game. He attacks the weights with fire in his veins, works to polish his speed and technique, and when the lights turn on and it’s game time, his blood boils and he becomes a desperate soldier chasing quarterbacks. Gabriel was a dominant defensive tackle and audacious offensive lineman at St. Charles Lutheran High School outside St. Louis. Notre Dame recruiting coordinator Brian Polian describes Gabe’s aspects to “Grafico Sports”:
“The first thing you notice about Gabe is that he is as wide as a power wagon. He’s a big man, and he likes honesty. For a big man he plays really hard, sometimes those guys can go two or three plays and then they tapped out, because they are worn out, he works really hard”.
Gabriel comes from a family very involved with sports, he carries resilience in his genes, his trade is the ability to play physically as Santiago Rubio pointed out for ‘Grafico Sports’ at the beginning of his senior year in High School: “from the age of 15, during his freshman year, he came into the team strong and was already playing under the lights on Friday nights.”
Gabriel has a powerful club move that offensive linemen can’t handle. Gabriel finished his junior season with 117 tackles and 18 sacks and helped get the Cougars into the fourth round of the state playoffs. Despite a knee injury and games canceled by Covid-19, Gabe played tough in the chaotic 2020 season, ending his senior season with 40 tackles and two sacks. He always played his heart out for coach Arlen Harris at St. Charles Lutheran, he is the No. 9 defensive tackle nationally, according to ESPN, and the No. 2 Missouri player by Rivals.
And this is how the Rubio Family shows their strength, always together, polishing, growing in every way, as dedicated individuals and students. Teresa, Gabe’s mother is an athlete. These kids work hard because it’s in their genes, they love and support each other. Gabe is supported by his sister Isabelle and his brothers Isaac and Seth, and also Isaiah who has been inspired by his older brother to play football. They were both on the same team in 2020 and what makes this a true family story is that Gabe and Isaiah were coached by their dad, getting true knowledge of a fiery warrior. Family is everything in this story.
“We love his family, there was a time we challenged him in terms of ‘hey, you have to understand what Notre Dame is academically and if you want that we need to see the appropriate response in the classroom’, and he was phenomenal, this was early in his recruitment, he really accepted that challenge and has done a beautiful job 100%”.
Gabe is proud to have met that challenge and feels fire in his heart to be great in the classroom and on the Notre Dame gridiron. As a 21st century golden alchemist Gabriel will study Fire Science. The brave defensive tackle is that kid who dreamed big because he acquired values and that is why Notre Dame was a better fit. He turned down 21 offers, including SEC teams like LSU. Gabriel wants something bigger than that, especially when LSU isn’t in the Top 25 this season and the Irish are No.4 ready to play in the Rose Bowl the CFB Playoff semifinal against No. 1 Alabama.
The goal was clear for Gabriel, he wanted to be in a program with high academic level, he is a student with an old school soul who cares about tradition and being the best. He knows that nothing is impossible when you play with fire in your soul, his presence will be explosive under the command of Mike Elston, the Irish defensive line coach.
“So we think he’ll fit in, it’s hard to say that any freshman can play a lot, i think the one thing that coach Kelly and our Notre Dame program have proven is a meritocracy, if you are a freshman and you deserve to play we’ll play you, he will be in the mix, there is no doubt, we are very grateful he is part of this group”.
This year freshman DT Rylie Mills (99) has made big plays using his physicality to dominate, Milley has stepped up in the trenches against North Carolina and Clemson. So Gabriel will be competing body and soul to play in his freshman year on Saturdays next fall. The young man doing his weight training in a firefighter suit is excited to envision his path entering the sacred gridiron, carrying the flames of spiritual fire and defending the honor of his family. It is exciting for him to know that he will be ready to walk through the tunnel when the voice of Notre Dame Stadium announces…Here come the Irish!
Follow Omar Ureña on Twitter: @omarurena_