With two repaired knees and the heart of a lion, Drue Tranquill will now get his shot to prove he’s an every down player. Notre Dame’s projected strong safety and a key weapon in Brian VanGorder’s scheme, Tranquill may have some limitations as a open field safety, but he more than makes up for them with his other skills.
A team leader both on and off the field, after two star-crossed seasons, perhaps junior year is the time for Tranquill’s breakout.
6’1.5″, 225 lbs.
Junior, No. 23, S
A three-star recruit with offers coming from mostly MAC and lower-tier Big Ten programs, Tranquill wanted a chance to play safety at Notre Dame, and ended up committing to Purdue first before eventually Brian Kelly found room for him.
Freshman Season (2014): Played in 11 games, starting three before tearing his ACL against Louisville. Made 33 tackles, one TFL, one interception and recovered a fumble. Was named Notre Dame’s Defensive Newcomer of the Year.
Sophomore Season (2015): Played in three games, making one start before suffering a season-ending knee injury. Made nine tackles including 2.5 TFLs and breaking up two passes.
WHAT WE SAID LAST YEAR
This was on track, until his knee gave out.
If he’s given the opportunity, Tranquill will make plays. That’s not to say you should expect to see him flying across the back-end of the secondary and snatching footballs from center field, but rather expect to see some paint-chips flying and Tranquill doing his best heat-seeking missile impression.
A defense needs football players like Tranquill. So do Notre Dame’s special teams. After hearing Kelly rave about Tranquill’s rehabilitation (he “attacked it” like no other player he’s seen, per BK), it’s clear that the sophomore will be ready come Texas.
I’m skeptical that Tranquill can play as a back-end safety. So while his role as an every-down player won’t come unless something goes wrong, Tranquill should be a productive performer for the defense, a key to the unit on third downs.
I still don’t think Tranquill will be a great player in coverage, and at times I expect to see those limitations show up in ways that hurt the Irish. But he’s also shown very quickly that if used properly he’s a wonderful weapon in VanGorder’s scheme—especially as a missile attacking the option and run-heavy offenses.
Health is the only question. Not if Tranquill can recover from injury—he’s already shown that twice. But does his body have the ability to take the punishment of an every-down role?
If he can stay healthy, I expect Tranquill to be one of the most productive players on the Irish defense. Think of him as a super-sized version of Matthias Farley from 2014. He will fill up the stat sheet.
Knock on wood that he stays healthy, because if he does I expect Tranquill to be the most productive safety of the VanGorder era at Notre Dame. He’s going to be one of the team’s leading tackler in front of and behind the line of scrimmage.
Does that mean he’ll be great in coverage? No. But if he’s able to wreak havoc as a guy running the alley and crashing towards the line of scrimmage, he’s got a chance to be a real difference maker.
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