Irish A-to-Z: Drue Tranquill

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A surprisingly productive freshman season was cut short when Drue Tranquill tore his ACL against Louisville, another season-ending injury that derailed the Irish defense. But Tranquill’s recover has been nothing short of miraculous, and is a telling detail about the work ethic and impressive physicality of the Indiana native.

Held back during spring practice, Tranquill was ready to compete less than five months removed from major knee surgery. Now nearly nine months after the procedure, Tranquill will attack his sophomore season the same way he has rehab and his early playing experience.

Let’s take a look at Notre Dame’s jumbo safety.

 

DRUE TRANQUILL
6’1.5″, 225 lbs.
Sophomore, No. 23, S

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

A tweener at the next level, Tranquill’s offer list consisted of mostly MAC and lower-tier Big Ten offers until Notre Dame came calling. Most believed that the Irish saw Tranquill as an answer at inside linebacker, with many doubting his ability to run as a pure safety in the secondary. That didn’t sit well with the Fort Wayne native, who was recruited to be a safety by Purdue.

Ultimately, Brian Kelly found room for Tranquill (the Irish were full at safety), and it didn’t take long to get the Purdue commitment to flip.

 

PLAYING CAREER

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.

 

WHAT WE SAID LAST YEAR

Going to tip my cap to myself. But even though I was high on Tranquill, I didn’t see him immediately finding a spot in Notre Dame’s sub packages. (And for those of you wondering, Grootegoed is former USC All-American Matt Grootegoed, a way-too-small linebacker/safety tweener.)

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.

 

FUTURE POTENTIAL

As we saw when Tranquill was thrown into the starting lineup, there’s still a lot of work to do for him to be a half-field safety. Multiple times, receivers got behind him, especially against Northwestern. And while it’s hardly fair to reach conclusions on Tranquill’s ceiling when blue-chippers like Max Redfield and Elijah Shumate struggled too, it’s fair to question Tranquill’s ability in space and if he can succeed as an every down player.

But instead of focusing on his limitations, Tranquill also presents some really intriguing options for VanGorder and the Irish defense. This is a guy who is absolutely huge—chiseled from granite and everything you want from an in-the-box safety from a size and physicality perspective.

After quickly grasping his role in dime and exotic packages, Tranquill should easily step back into the 3rd down mix, while also serving as the key backup behind Shumate. From there, he’s got all the opportunities to prove he’s Notre Dame’s next starting strong safety.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

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.

 

THE 2015 IRISH A-to-Z
Josh Adams, RB
Josh Barajas, OLB
Nicky Baratti, S
Alex Bars, OL
Asmar Bilal, OLB
Hunter Bivin, OL
Grant Blankenship, DE
Jonathan Bonner, DE
Miles Boykin, WR
Justin Brent, WR
Greg Bryant, RB
Devin Butler, CB
Jimmy Byrne, OL
Daniel Cage, DL
Amir Carlisle, RB
Nick Coleman, DB
Te’von Coney, LB
Shaun Crawford, DB
Scott Daly, LS
Sheldon Day, DL
Michael Deeb, LB
Micah Dew-Treadway, DL
Steve Elmer, RG
Matthias Farley, DB
Nicco Fertitta, DB
Tarean Folston, RB
Will Fuller, WR
Jarrett Grace, LB
Jalen Guyton, WR
Mark Harrell, OL
Jay Hayes, DL
Mike Heuerman, TE
Kolin Hill, DE
Tristen Hoge, C
Corey Holmes, WR
Chase Hounshell, TE
Torii Hunter, Jr. WR
Alizé Jones, TE
Jarron Jones, DL
DeShone Kizer, QB
Tyler Luatua, TE
Cole Luke, CB
Nick Martin, C
Greer Martini, LB
Jacob Matuska, DL
Mike McGlinchey, OT
Colin McGovern, OL
Peter Mokwuah, DL
John Montelus, OL
Nyles Morgan, LB
Sam Mustipher, OL
Quenton Nelson, OL
Tyler Newsome, P
Romeo Okwara, DE
James Onwualu, LB
C.J. Prosise, WR/RB
Doug Randolph, LB/DE
Max Redfield, S
Corey Robinson, WR
Trevor Ruhland, OL
CJ Sanders, WR
Joe Schmidt, LB
Avery Sebastian, S
Elijah Shumate, S
Jaylon Smith, LB
Durham Smythe, TE
Equanimeous St. Brown, WR
Ronnie Stanley, LT
Elijah Taylor, DL
Brandon Tiassum, DL
Jerry Tillery, DL