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Irish A-to-Z: Drue Tranquill

Aug 25, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT


If there’s one coach counting on freshman Drue Tranquill to find the football field, it’s head coach Brian Kelly. He was the driving force in the recruitment of the Indiana native, an offer that came later in the evaluation period and after Tranquill was committed to Purdue.

But once Notre Dame came around, Tranquill followed, and the Irish landed a unique athlete that’ll start his career at safety but looks to have the ability to grow into a linebacker. (He’s already bigger than start James Onwualu.)

Another Fort Wayne product playing for the Irish, let’s take a closer look at the freshman.


6’1.5″ 225 lbs.
Freshman, No. 23



Tranquill’s offer list shows the concerns some colleges had with the standout from Carroll High. Not long enough to be a linebacker and maybe not fast or dynamic enough to be a defensive back, running back or wide receiver. But Tranquill’s tape showed a great football player, and after backing away from his commitment to Purdue, Tranquill ultimately chose the Irish over offers from programs like Penn State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Miami (OH), and Indiana.

If you’re to believe the reports during his recruitment, Notre Dame saw him as a linebacker from the start while Tranquill wanted to play safety. But Kelly stepped back from that assessment, talking about Tranquill’s recruitment and the  type of player he saw on Signing Day.

“We weren’t looking for his position at the time because we were really full, and he was playing safety,” Kelly recalled. “But he kept jumping out at us. This kid was making plays, and Coach Hiestand kept banging me about ‘Hey, listen, watch this kid,’ and we kept looking at him, and he’d keep making plays during camp…  It got to the point where I watched more film, we watched more film. I loved his attitude.  I loved the way he played the game. I said, we’re going to offer him as a head coach’s offer. Head coach can offer anybody, right?  Coach, we don’t have a scholarship.  I said, well, we’ve got a scholarship now.

“So I offered him a scholarship, and we really didn’t have a position for him because we just loved the way he played the game, and so that’s kind of how the recruiting process went on Drue.  People have asked does he play safety, does he play running back?  I don’t know where he plays, but he’s going to play somewhere here at Notre Dame because he’s a darned good football player, he’s athletic, he’s competitive, and we’ll find a place for him somewhere.  He’s one of those guys if he’s going to play at Notre Dame he’s going to play somewhere because he’s a really good football player.”



In Brian VanGorder’s new scheme, there’s room for athletes of Tranquill’s size, with the distinction between linebacker and safety blurred. But with the type of talent Notre Dame’s bringing in, Tranquill will be in a fight to make it into the two-deep, needing to differentiate himself in the meeting rooms or by building a reputation on special teams.

But as we saw in the past few weeks, all worries of Notre Dame being “full” when it comes to scholarships are usually just expressed before a few roster spots open up, and the three walk-ons awarded scholarships last week speak to the fact that it’s okay to use a scholarship for a player you believe in, even if you’re not sure how he’ll see the field.

It’s not necessarily a fair comparison, but watching Tranquill’s high school tape and early work in training camp, I thought back to an undersized hybrid player Pete Carroll got a lot out of named Matt Grootegoed. Tranquill’s much bigger than the former Trojan All-American, but Carroll took an excellent high school player (Grootegoed starred at Orange County power Mater Dei) and turned him into a consensus All-American.



No, I’m not predicting Tranquill to be the next Grootegoed. But for all the umbrage that comes from Kelly and the Irish staff sticking to their convictions on a prospect that may only garner three stars, consider the fact that this staff made a living and built a reputation on finding and identifying below-the-radar athletes who can find a way to thrive on the football field.

A football program may be led by stars like Jaylon Smith and Greg Bryant, but it’s built on the backs of players like Tranquill. Physically, Tranquill looks the part of a college-ready athlete, a workout warrior that came to campus developed and ready to contribute.

That should get him some work as a gunner covering kicks, while he continues to learn the nuances of playing in space at the college level, a world of difference from Indiana high school football. Ultimately, Tranquill will get his chance to find a role in VanGorder’s sub packages. But for now, getting on the field and wreaking havoc on special teams should be enough.



The Irish A-to-Z
Josh Atkinson
Nicky Baratti
Alex Bars
Hunter Bivin
Grant Blankenship
Jonathan Bonner
Justin Brent
Kyle Brindza
Chris Brown
Jalen Brown
Greg Bryant
Devin Butler
Jimmy Byrne
Daniel Cage
Amir Carlisle
Austin Collinsworth
Ben Councell
Scott Daly
Sheldon Day
Michael Deeb
Steve Elmer
Matthias Farley
Tarean Folston
Will Fuller
Everett Golson
Jarrett Grace
Conor Hanratty
Eilar Hardy
Mark Harrell
Jay Hayes
Matt Hegarty
Mike Heuerman
Kolin Hill
Corey Holmes
Chase Hounshell
Torii Hunter Jr.
Jarron Jones
DeShone Kizer
Ben Koyack
Christian Lombard
Tyler Luatua
Cole Luke
Nick Martin
Greer Martini
Jacob Matuska
Cam McDaniel
Mike McGlinchey
Colin McGovern
Pete Mokwuah
John Montelus
Kendall Moore
Nyles Morgan
Sam Mustipher
Quenton Nelson
Tyler Newsome
Romeo Okwara
James Onwualu
C.J. Prosise
Anthony Rabasa
Doug Randolph
Max Redfield
Cody Riggs
Corey Robinson
Isaac Rochell
KeiVarae Russell
Joe Schmidt
Elijah Shumate
Jaylon Smith
Durham Smythe
Ronnie Stanley


  1. dickasman - Aug 25, 2014 at 2:06 PM

    Depending on his 40 speed but I’d say safety. We always need a smart intelligent focused white safety directing traffic back there.

    • domerboyirish - Aug 25, 2014 at 2:21 PM

      Ohhh here we go! Do you really want to go there?!

      BTW, Sunday morning I finally had a chance to watch that ESPN college preview special. News Flash: Kirk Herbstriet is a pud. He predicts that we will only get 7 wins. Even Howard, who, as a scUM grad hates us, predicted 9. So at seven wins, who does he think we are going to lose to? FSU and Stanford appearently. Does he really think Michigan, Arizona State or USC are locks to beat us?! He’s just an ass.

      With our current talent level, even with this schedule, we win a minimum of 9. Kirk quit smoking the fake turf as Tattoo U

      • tucsonfan - Aug 25, 2014 at 8:36 PM

        Herbie probably noticed we’ve lost 3 starters, including our best CB, best, most experienced WR and a defensive end from our very thin DL.

        Maybe it’s we who are the ones smoking dope?

      • johngaltisspeaking - Aug 25, 2014 at 11:13 PM

        Michigan, Florida State, Arizona State, USC, Stanford – LOSS

        Lets face it we are the leftover aftermath of the Big East. Syracuse has a shot at us and I bet we beat Rice by 7 or fewer points. Sparty is going to win the Big Ten and is going to the playoffs. Until we can get Solid coaching and tuff players you can forget about it. Golson is not as great as people think and our Defense will be ranked about the 80’s….

      • irishdog80 - Aug 25, 2014 at 11:57 PM

        Remember that you are Mr. Recruitnik that talks about ND not having the talent to keep up with USC, Stanford, FSU and Michigan, yet you think a team like Rice a team with zero 4 or 5 star players on their entire roster and less 3 star players than ND has 4 star players is, on the road, going to stay within 7 points of Notre Dame.

        A Rice team that has lost 10 starters from last year’s team including their QB and best RB and got blown out in their bowl game by a 6-6 Mississippi State team by the score of 44-7.

        The shallowness of your college football knowledge is mind boggling. It’s almost Al Lesar-like.

    • bettis646 - Aug 25, 2014 at 2:49 PM

      Keith: please take a moment from uploading your terrific posts and ban the racist turd calling himself “dickasman”.

    • notthatconfused - Aug 25, 2014 at 2:55 PM


      I fail to see any correlation between his skin color and his football skills. Care to enlighten me?

    • ibleedirish - Aug 25, 2014 at 4:20 PM

      Tranquill is white? I really wouldnt know. In my advanced stage of enlightenment I don’t see color. One side effect though is that I’ve lost all sense of humor as well.

    • ndfaithful - Aug 25, 2014 at 7:03 PM

      He’s not white.
      He’s blue and gold.

  2. fwirish - Aug 25, 2014 at 2:51 PM

    Keith, I just wanted to thank for all of your work in putting together the player Profiles. I have more insight on our team than ever before. I can’t wait until the next one.

    • johngaltisspeaking - Aug 25, 2014 at 11:17 PM

      Keith did an outstanding job on the blog… Cant wait for the game recaps

  3. notredameirish1980 - Aug 25, 2014 at 3:36 PM

    Looks like VanGorder is looking more to a rover back position, and Tranquill may be the prototypical player for that position.

  4. danirish - Aug 25, 2014 at 4:01 PM

    Didn’t Diaco and Kelly use a hybrid safety/LB before in Slaughter? That seemed to work well until he got hurt.

    Regardless, good luck young man! Don’t care who starts or plays – JUST WIN!


  5. ndfaithful - Aug 25, 2014 at 7:04 PM

    If Kelly likes him so much, I’ll bet he ends up on offense before his career is over.

  6. shaunodame - Aug 25, 2014 at 8:01 PM

    Regardless of whatever position he eventually grows into, I expect him to be a full-time special teams BEAST. he’s just too much of w gamer to not see the field. (He’s also already heavier than Heuerman, but I digress)

    Also, I might be mistaken but doesn’t he have who’s a more heralded prospect at Cornerback?

  7. getsome99 - Aug 25, 2014 at 8:50 PM

    Let’s not forget that STeams is a critical 1/3 of the formula for a championship caliber team. An area where we’ve struggled in recent years. I hope we see this kid wreak some havoc on STeams while he finds his way in to the rotation.

  8. johngaltisspeaking - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:34 PM

    He would be a great get for Purdue not so much for ND

    • jvsirish - Aug 26, 2014 at 5:57 PM

      You’re a funny little dwarf.

  9. bigedefense - Aug 26, 2014 at 12:12 AM


    Yes, Drue has a younger brother, Justin, that is currently a high three star on Rivals, 247, & ESPN. He grades 89 on those & 90 will get you a fourth star. He is a four star on Scout. Justin is listed as an ATH & has reportedly ran in the mid 4.4’s at several camps.

    Not trying to be a know it all, just spreading the news I have read. I get most of my info from It’s by far the best ND message board out there. The mods are pretty quick to rid the site of trolls & there are some guys that have inside info that has always panned out. If any of you guys check it out & end up joining (it’s free), send me a private message & I will give ya some vbucks to gamble with. I go by bigedefense on there.

  10. yaketyyacc - Aug 26, 2014 at 3:34 AM

    Tranquill will prove to be anything but that to opposing offenses.
    you know Desmond Howard is going to be anti-ND. and so it the team coming in for our second game. Michigan. the barometer on how our season will pan out is to beat Rice by 40 points and not allow them to score. if we do this, look out Michigan, and all the rest. if we do not, ut oh.
    it’s truth time, are we the Fighting Irish or the Fibbing Irish. I’ll answer that: THE FIGHTING IRISH!

  11. johngaltisspeaking - Aug 26, 2014 at 10:00 AM

    Can someone tell me the big deal with receiving 116 pieces of mail all tied up as one piece of mail. That is just stupid…

    • dwp1991 - Aug 26, 2014 at 10:46 AM


    • jvsirish - Aug 26, 2014 at 5:59 PM

      You’re a funny little dwarf.

  12. irishwilliamsport - Aug 26, 2014 at 10:52 AM

    If we struggle against Rice, it will be a long year. Why we struggled against Temple and Rutgers and Pitt last year just makes you nuts. Hopefully a blowout vs. Rice.

    Guys and girls, just ignore the idiots assman, and Johngalt and they’ll go away but if you keep answering them they are here to stay.

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