New Hampshire has a real-life 'Rudy' at Notre Dame
By ROGER BROWN New Hampshire Union Leader
Brookline's Chris Bury poses next to an iconic sign in Notre Dame's locker room. (COURTESY)
Chris Bury knows a little something about maximizing his potential.
When he was in middle school, there were those who told Bury he should consider pursuing a sport other than football. He had a nondescript career at Division II Stonehill College, but earlier this spring he earned a roster spot on the Notre Dame football team — just like in the movie featuring walk-on “Rudy” Ruettiger.
Here’s how it happened:
Bury, a Brookline resident, played football at Bishop Guertin High School in Nashua for four years. After his sophomore year — when Travis Cote replaced Tony Johnson as BG’s head coach — he made the move from guard to tight end.
After graduating from BG in 2013, Bury continued to play tight end at Stonehill, where he redshirted his freshman season, was used sparingly as a sophomore and suffered a knee injury as a junior. He was enrolled in the 3 + 2 computer engineering program at Stonehill, which allows students to study at Stonehill for three years and then continue their education at Notre Dame for two.
While he was a freshman at Stonehill, Bury set a goal for himself: He wanted to play football at Notre Dame. He then began to pursue that goal. “I worked out six or seven times a week,” Bury explained. “Sometimes twice a day. It was stretching and eating right, not just lifting and running. I tried to make the most out of every minute of every day.”
During his final spring at Stonehill, Bury reached out to Dave Peloquin, Notre Dame’s director of player personnel. He then met with Peloquin during a trip to Notre Dame and explained his situation. That led to Notre Dame to invite Bury, 22, to a one-day tryout in March.
“I felt really confident with the preparation I put in,” Bury said. “I knew I was ready.”
Bury said he was one of about 40 players at the tryout, which lasted 90 minutes. “It was a lot of agility drills to see how you move,” he said. “I felt really good about it, but I tried not to assume anything. I couldn’t really think about it. I had a lot of homework that night.”
The following morning he received an email that instructed him to report to the football team’s medical staff. He was one of two players from the tryout who had earned a spot on the roster. Bury, who is 6-foot-2 and 240 pounds, was assigned No. 47 and was one of six tight ends who participated in spring practice.
“That says a lot about who he is as a person and his work ethic,” said Stonehill head coach Eli Gardner, who was Stonehill’s defensive coordinator when Bury played for the Skyhawks. “Some would call it a plan, but it was maybe more of a dream for him. We’re a sister school with Notre Dame so it’s always a possibility, but it’s a very, very tough thing to achieve to walk on to that football program.
“Chris has earned everything he’s achieved academically and athletically. We’re happy for him and that was a proud moment for him and his family.”
Bury: “I’m shorter than some of (the tight ends), but from a hitting standpoint I can bang with them. The physical part you kind of expect. The hard part is how mentally taxing it is with the playbook.
“What I’m most proud of is that I made it as a tight end. A lot of people didn’t think I could even play that position in high school.”
Bury said because he redshirted his first season at Stonehill there’s a chance the NCAA will grant him a fifth year of eligibility, which he could use as a graduate student. He spent time at home this week, but is scheduled to report back to Notre Dame on Sunday.
“I don’t want it to stop here, ” Bury said. “I don’t want this to be the end of the story. I don’t want to just go along for the ride. I want to make the most of whatever my potential is. Maybe that will lead to making an impact on the field for them.”