If you watched a Nebraska football game in the 2000’s with a visiting friend or someone who doesn’t really follow the Huskers, maybe you experienced this. A HUGE sack by one of Nebraska’s Blackshirts. The QB on the opposing team loses yards. And 80,000+ Nebraska fans BOOOOOOOOOOOOO.
“Why are they booing??” your confused friend asked.
That’s when you explained that the fans weren’t booing, they were saying RUUUUUUUUUUUUUUD!!!
Yes, years before that one guy, Ndamukong Suh, made the response legendary in the NFL, two brothers from Lincoln created a legacy within Husker Nation, inciting tens of thousands to yell THEIR name after one of their hundreds of combined career tackles. Their names: Barrett and Bo Ruud.
Thanks to Nebraska Athletics for the photos!
“It started happening with my brother, then me,” Bo Ruud recently told me in an interview in Lincoln. “Like I tell Suh, he owes us some money because that’s ours, he stole it. It was copyrighted, trademarked.”
All jokes, of course. Those moments, listening to a crowd going crazy because of something he did on the field, were simply ‘an amazing experience’ according to the younger Ruud. Bo played for Nebraska from 2003-2007, racking up an impressive resume of accolades including First-Team All-Big 12, a multi-game Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week and winning the Nebraska Guy Chamberlin Trophy. Arguably his most impressive moment came against Iowa State his senior year, when Bo intercepted the ball and returned it 93-yards for a touchdown. At that time, it was the third longest in school history and the longest ever by a Husker linebacker.
Still, it’s hard for Bo to pinpoint one standout moment in his career at Nebraska.
“It’s such a large collection of just great moments, it’s like a feeling almost,” said Bo. “Nebraska football, that was a dream growing up for me. I’m a Lincoln guy.”
Bo lived about five minutes from Memorial Stadium and was surrounded by the Nebraska Football dynasty all of his life. Great-grandfather Clarence Swanson played for Nebraska from 1918-1921. Uncles Bob Martin and John Ruud were Huskers in the 1970’s. Dad, Tom Ruud, earned All-Big Eight honors with Nebraska from 1972-1974. Combine Tom and his boys, and you’ve got three of the top 30 tacklers in Nebraska school history.
Bo, now a medical rep working in Lincoln and traveling across the state, will be keeping a close eye on the position tied so closely to his family.
“Always watching the linebackers, that’s always first,” said Bo. “You’re always watching and rooting for those guys to do well. Randy Gregory’s a standout, I think he’s going to be really good.”
Bo also calls running back Ameer Abdullah the ‘heart and soul’ of the Nebraska team.
Brother Barrett Ruud may not be able to pick any favorites on this year’s squad; he’s one of their coaches. Barrett Ruud is officially a ‘Football Intern’ as part of the Nebraska Football Support Staff.
Photos courtesy of Nebraska Athletics
“I’m excited, really excited,” said Bo, when asked about watching his brother on the sidelines. “It’s going to be different. Different for him, too, but the whole family’s excited for him.”
And no doubt his players can learn a lot from their new coach. Barrett Ruud played for Nebraska from 2001-2004; a team Captain, on the Butkus Award Watch List, and the 2004 Nebraska Defensive MVP. He was a second round NFL Draft pic, and played several years in the pros. Before Nebraska’s game against McNeese State, Barrett Ruud will officially be inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame.
14 years ago, these brothers were in Lincoln, playing under the Friday Night Lights for Lincoln Southeast. They dreamed of high school state championships and maybe, just maybe, playing in front of tens of thousands in the stadium they grew up hearing about. Now, they are back in Lincoln, each showing how their time as Huskers impacted their lives. Barrett Ruud, by coaching a new generation of players. Bo Ruud, by proudly wearing red every Saturday, and once in awhile offering commentary via sports talk radio with long time best friend (and Creighton Basketball legend) Nick Bahe.
With that, Bo Ruud has a message for today’s Huskers.
“Everybody’s going to tell them, but you’ve got to soak it up!” said Bo. “Every second, enjoy it. It’s the best years of your life, it really is.”
It may be awhile before Nebraska fans again here the rattling RUUUUUUD reverberating through Memorial Stadium, should the family legacy continue. Bo Ruud is grateful for the fans who remember him taking down a quarterback and making that growl happen.
“It’s an honor, if that’s the case,” said Bo. “Just continue being great fans and supporting the Huskers, because I will continue to do that, too.”