Rudy, the 1993 David Ansen film starring Sean Astin as everybody's favorite walk-on scrub, is basically required viewing for any Notre Dame fan. We all know the storyline by heart: scrawny Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger, told time after time he's too small, too slow, too stupid to amount to anything beats back the odds to win admission to Notre Dame and becoming an inglorious tackling dummy for Ara Parseghian's Fighting Irish. Overcoming everything with pure grit and determination, Rudy wins the respect of the Irish players and coaches, finally getting into a game with 27 seconds left in the home finale of the 1974 season. What a story.
Now, what if I were to tell you that you could have that life-long dream fulfilled and be a vital cog in the special teams unit currently ranked 3rd best in country at stopping kick returns, 8th best against punt returns? Is that something you might be interested in?
Well then here once more, the man who needs no introduction, winner of Section 29's prestigious Sean Calloway Award for 2007, from Orland Park, Illinois, #37...Mike Anello!
Anello won plaudits last year for his scrappiness, and further recognition early this season for completing the journey from walk-on ex-wrestler to scholarship special teams gunner. But if last season he was merely an extra who got picked out to deliver a few lines, his play this year has him receiving the all-out headliner treatment. Doing a quick Google News search for "Mike Anello" found the following write-ups:
- Notre Dame's Anello Out-Rudying Rudy (Associated Press)
- ND's Special Team Specialist Living His Dream (WSBT)
- Walk-on for Irish Something Special (Fort Wayne Journal)
- Anello a modern-day Rudy for the Irish (Chicago Sun-Times)
- ND's Unlikely Gunner (Chicago Tribune)
- Modern-day Rudy makes his mark (CNN/SI)
Just to cap off the story, here's the thoughts of the original version on Rudy 2.0, from the Sun-Times article linked above:
Rudy Ruettiger has a remedy for what ails Notre Dame's football program. His name is Mike Anello.
''Emotion. That's what's missing,'' said the former Notre Dame walk-on who was the inspiration for the movie ''Rudy.'' ''That's what Anello has. He has that spirit, that heart. He is all passion. I wonder what you could do with a whole team of Anellos.''
Earlier this season, Weis rewarded Anello -- whom he describes as being ''5-foot-2'' and weighing ''12 pounds'' -- with a scholarship. Not long after, Anello was stopped outside Notre Dame Stadium by security and told the entrance he was attempting to use was for ''players only.''
''If people don't know I play football, I don't bother telling them,'' he said. ''They wouldn't believe me anyway.''
Actually, there is a growing legion of believers. Count Ruettiger among them.
''Fans want that type of spirit, emotion and passion,'' he said. ''That's what the kid stands for. It gives them hope."