Along with his success on the field, Ruud was a three-time first-team academic All-Big 12 selection and earned his bachelor's degree in business management from Nebraska in May 2005.
The Lincoln, Neb., native ended his career with an outstanding 2004 senior campaign. Ruud earned third-team All-America honors from the Associated Press and was a consensus first-team All-Big 12 selection. He led the Blackshirt defense in total tackles for the second straight year with 143, while his 18 tackles for loss also paced NU. He broke former teammate Demorrio Williams’ 2003 Husker record by recording 89 solo stops. Ruud notched a personal-best three sacks and was named Nebraska’s Defensive MVP for 2004.
One of four Huskers voted as a team captain in 2004, Ruud set a single-game high with 19 tackles at Kansas State, while his 16 solo stops against the Wildcats broke Clete Pillen’s 1976 school record of 15. He shattered Jerry Murtagh’s (1968-70) previous career standard of 342 tackles at Texas Tech, while he finished his career No. 2 to Grant Wistrom on NU’s all-time tackles-for-loss chart. Despite playing in two fewer games than the previous season, Ruud nearly matched his own single-season Husker record of 149 tackles, which he set in 2003.
Ruud’s senior campaign came on the heels of his record-breaking junior season of 2003. Along with setting the program’s single-season tackles record, he reached double figures in tackles nine times, including seven of the season's final eight games. Ruud recorded 14 or more tackles in each of the final four regular-season contests, including a then-career-high 17 stops at Texas and 16 in NU's victory at Colorado. Ruud finished the season tied for seventh nationally in total tackles.
In addition to his 149 total tackles, Ruud finished second on the team to Demorrio Williams in tackles for loss (14-39) and quarterback hurries (11), and ranked third on the team in sacks (2.5-21). He also forced a team-high four fumbles, and recovered three others, while scoring his only two career touchdowns.
A business management major, Ruud earned his bachelor's degree from Nebraska in May of 2005.
In addition to his 149 total tackles, Ruud finished second on the team to Demorrio Williams in tackles for loss (14-39) and quarterback hurries (11), and ranked third on the team in sacks (2.5-21). He also forced a team-high four fumbles, and recovered three others, including a 15-yard return for a touchdown in NU's 17-7 season-opening win over No. 24 Oklahoma State.
An agile player for his position, Ruud was strong in pass coverage. He intercepted a pass against Texas A&M and returned the pick 27 yards for his second touchdown of the season, and also broke up five passes. The interception for a touchdown against A&M was part of Nebraska's school-record eight takeaways in the 48-12 rout. Ruud also had 10 tackles, a sack and a fumble caused in the contest and was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week. He was a key figure in a Husker defense that ranked in the top 15 nationally in four statistical categories, including 11th in total defense, first in pass efficiency defense and second in scoring defense. The Blackshirts also finished second nationally in takeaways with 47, pacing NU to a nation-best +1.77 turnover margin.
Utah State–Ruud made 11 stops, forced a fumble and broke up a pair of passes.
Penn State–Ruud’s fumble recovery midway through the fourth quarter stopped a PSU drive, and Nebraska capitalized with a field goal for an 18-10 lead. Ruud also had a pass breakup and a quarterback hurry to go along with eight tackles.
Southern Miss–Ruud made 10 tackles in a 38-14 victory. He also recovered a third-quarter fumble, and Nebraska converted the miscue into a touchdown. The fumble recovery was his third of the season, tying the previous season record for fumble recoveries by a linebacker, ironically held by his father.
Troy State–Ruud made eight tackles, including a career-high 1.5 sacks for 12 yards, caused a fumble and had two hurries in Nebraska’s 30-0 shutout. Ruud had two tackles for loss, starting a streak of nine straight games with at least one tackle for loss.
Missouri–Ruud posted 12 tackles, starting a streak of seven straight double-figure tackle games. He added two tackles for loss and a career-high three hurries.
Texas A&M–Ruud had a complete game with a team-high 10 tackles, a 27-yard interception return for a touchdown, a fumble caused, a sack and a pair of tackles for loss. His effort earned Ruud Big 12 Defensive Player-of-the-Week honors. Ruud also passed his father, Tom, on the Nebraska career tackle list in the win.
Iowa State–Ruud tied his then-career high with 12 tackles in Nebraska's second shutout in four games (28-0). He added a tackle for loss and a hurry.
Texas–Ruud made a career-high 17 tackles in a 31-7 loss, his fourth straight game with 10 or more tackles. He added two tackles for three yards lost.
Kansas–Ruud continued his torrid play with 14 tackles, including 10 solo stops. He also forced his fourth fumble of the season and had a hurry in a 24-3 victory.
Kansas State–Ruud again easily reached double figures in tackles with 15 stops, including nine solos. He also had two quarterback hurries and a tackle for loss.
Colorado–Ruud closed the regular season with 16 tackles in NU's 31-22 victory over the Buffaloes. Ruud had a career-best 12 unassisted stops and added a tackle for two yards lost, while moving into second on the single-season tackle list.
Michigan State–Ruud had nine tackles as the Nebraska defense dominated Michigan State, holding the Spartans to just 179 yards of total offense in a 17-3 win. His second tackle allowed him to set a school season tackle record.
Ruud had six games with eight or more tackles, beginning with an eight-tackle outing against Arizona State, when he added a pair of TFL. Ruud broke his left hand early in the first quarter vs. Troy State, but returned to action in the contest. Despite playing with a cast the following week against Utah State, Ruud had four tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack, a fumble caused and two quarterback hurries. He played the next several games with a cast on his hand, but still compiled impressive statistics before battling a leg injury late in the year.
Ruud had eight tackles and a pair of pass breakups against McNeese State, then produced his best play of 2002 in the final five games. He posted a season-high 12 tackles, including three tackles for loss and a sack against Texas, then finished the season with nine stops and two tackles for loss at Kansas State, followed by a 10-tackle effort against Colorado, when he forced a fumble. He had nine tackles in the Independence Bowl against Ole Miss.
Ruud had seven games with four or more tackles, with a season-high 10 against Troy State. He had five tackles in his first collegiate game against TCU, before his Troy State outing that included four solo stops, keying an NU defense that held the Trojans to minus-25 yards rushing. He had seven tackles against Rice, including a season-high two tackles for loss. He had four tackles each against Iowa State and Baylor, before making five tackles each against No. 2 Oklahoma and Kansas. He played in the 2002 Rose Bowl, but did not have a tackle.
Before Nebraska (Southeast HS)
Ruud's Career Statistics
2002 Rose Bowl vs. Miami: Tackles, none
Touchdowns- 15-yard fumble return vs. Oklahoma State, 2003