Listed Measurements: 6-foot-4, 252 pounds
2017-18 year, eligibility: Senior with 2017 as his last year of eligibility barring injury
Depth chart: Trumbetti and classmate Jay Hayes split first-team reps at the strongside defensive end position throughout spring. By the end, it seemed Hayes had the edge with sophomore Khalid Kareem behind the two.
Recruiting: Rivals.com pegged Trumbetti as a three-star but the other recruiting services gave him a four-star profile. The Under Armour All-American enrolled a semester early as a freshman.
CAREER TO DATE
Trumbetti has played in 36 games in his Irish career, not seeing action only against Purdue his freshman year (concussion) and Georgia Tech his sophomore season (presumably due to scheme adjusting for Tech’s triple-option attack.) His 26 tackles last year were a career high, compared to 21 and 16 his first two seasons, respectively, but he did not match his playmaking stats from years before.
2014: 21 tackles including 5.5 for loss and one sack; also credited with five quarterback hurries
2015: 16 tackles including 2.5 for loss and one sack; also credited with six quarterback hurries
2016: 26 tackles including 0.5 for loss and no sacks; also credited with three quarterback hurries
Irish coach Brian Kelly opened spring practice by describing the strongside position as it should appear in defensive coordinator Mike Elko’s approach.
“He’s going to be a guy that has got to hold the point,” Kelly said. “He’s going to be more physical at the point of attack.”
For that matter, Kelly then proceeded to point to a difference in Trumbetti’s offseason that should play into that particular role.
“We think he’s in a stronger position to handle the rigors of that position, in particular that strongside,” Kelly said. “When he was holding his weight in the manner we needed him to, that would have been more of a concern, but we feel really good about where he is right now.”
WHAT KEITH ARNOLD PROJECTED A YEAR AGO*
“There is a role in this defense for Trumbetti—maybe even a starting job if Jay Hayes can’t return quickly from his injured ankle. That open window should be one Trumbetti jumps through without reservation, because young guys like Daelin Hayes are on the horizon and may have already passed him when it comes to a pure pass rusher.
“So much of this evaluation is based on opportunity and only Trumbetti can truly control that. I think Notre Dame is going to get to the quarterback much better this season than last, and if they do it’ll be Trumbetti playing a supporting role. Sign me up for four sacks and hopefully getting to a half-dozen plays behind the line of scrimmage.”
To some extent, Trumbetti’s failure to meet those metrics of success Keith set a year ago should be attributed to a bigger picture than simply Trumbetti not making the plays. Assuredly, Trumbetti did not make the plays, but nobody did along Notre Dame’s defensive front. What percentage of that lackluster performance traces to the scheme and what percentage belongs at the feet of the individuals?
That question is not answerable, but it should at least be acknowledged here. The drop in Trumbetti’s plays behind the line of scrimmage from his first two seasons to his junior campaign shows regression on multiple fronts. If he could return to creating as much pressure as he did his freshman season, Elko and Kelly would probably be pleased. Five additional takedowns behind the line of scrimmage should be not scoffed at.
That would not likely push Trumbetti past Jay Hayes for that majority of snaps, though. That is where Kelly’s mention of Trumbetti’s weight is an intriguing one. Kelly volunteered that tidbit. The question was not what can Trumbetti do better or even what do the coaches expect from him. The question was about the strongside position in general, yet Kelly brought up the Irish strength and conditioning program.
If Trumbetti is more physically-prepared to hold the point of attack, that will serve as a tangible mark of progress in Notre Dame’s conditioning. At that point, perhaps Trumbetti and Hayes can spell each other, allowing for a rested rush at all times. Or, maybe the 6-foot-3 ½, 281-pound Hayes moves inside to shore up the Irish interior.
DOWN THE ROAD
This is it for Trumbetti. Now or never. If he has a strong senior season—let’s define strong as 35-plus tackles, multiple sacks and at least six tackles for loss, otherwise known as more than he recorded in his freshman season—then Trumbetti’s career at Notre Dame will be looked at fondly. He has represented the school well and would be seen as an example of growth on the field over a four-year career. Some time spent around an NFL franchise in rookie camps would not be an outlandish concept.
If Trumbetti’s downward trend continues, then he’ll be an unfortunate example of a highly-touted recruit not panning out, something the Irish defensive line cannot much afford.
*By no means is the “What Keith Arnold projected a year ago” section intended to showcase what Keith did or did not get right. It is intended to provide further context of how a player has performed compared to reasonable expectations.