Sycamore defenders De'Shaun Harris, left, and Preston Ruud stop Montini back CJ Bufkin in the second quarter of their Class 5A playoff game Nov. 9 in Sycamore.
Sycamore defenders De'Shaun Harris, left, and Preston Ruud stop Montini back CJ Bufkin in the second quarter of their Class 5A playoff game Nov. 9 in Sycamore. — Mary Beth Nolan

Sycamore standout linebacker Preston Ruud said engineering is in his future. That made the decision to attend school and play football at Valparaiso University a no-brainer for the senior, who committed to the Division I FCS program Friday.

“I needed good engineering professors and a good engineering building," Ruud said.

The Crusaders went 1-11 in the first season under first-year coach Landon Fox. Ruud wants to be one of the reasons the Crusaders find their footing once more.

“I’m going to be part of the team that gets them back on track," Ruud said.

The Spartans senior, who intends to throw for the Sycamore track and field team this spring, has been getting his body ready since the end of the football campaign that ended for the Spartans in the Class 5A state quarterfinals. He was told by the coaching staff that they went him to bulk up from 205 pounds to around 220-225.

“They do want me playing linebacker and when I get there I'm trying to make an impact as soon as possible," Ruud said. "I’m going to try and get significant playing time as soon as possible."

Ruud said that he's been part of Spartan weightlifting on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, as well as speed training.

The future Crusader said that Sycamore's commitment to the weight room and athletes being able to develop their bodies is a big part of what lends itself to future success.

“Ben Niemann said it himself," Rudd said. "The weight room is the main thing that got him to that next level.”

The chance to travel is something that appealed to Ruud in the recruiting process. Valparaiso is in the Pioneer Football League, a conference that features teams from California, Florida, New York and North Carolina, among other places.

"I thought it would be really cool I'd get to travel and play games in San Diego, games in Florida ... That really gives it the Division I feel," Ruud said

The knowledge that several members of the 2020 class of Spartan senior football players would go on to play collegiately has been both exciting and motivating for Ruud.

“It’s really exciting because we now we had a great team and the amount of people that got recruited out of my class in general, it was just great to see how we transformed from freshmen to seniors.”