Former Notre Dame linebacker and two-time captain Drue Tranquill, originally from Fort Wayne, Ind., will have to leave his homestate to continue his football career after the Los Angeles Chargers drafted Tranquill at No. 130 overall in Saturday’s fourth round.
A safety-turned-linebacker who lost his sophomore season with his second ACL tear, Tranquill finished his Irish career with 292 tackles, 25 coming for loss, and a hand in eight turnovers, including five fumble recoveries. He made 86 tackles in 2018, his first season as an inside linebacker, with nine for loss and 3.5 sacks.
That move to inside linebacker was half the reason Tranquill did not head to the NFL a year ago.
“I knew in my mind I need development at that position, so it was a general understanding that [the Notre Dame coaching staff] had gotten feedback from NFL teams, I had obviously gotten feedback from NFL teams, and we all understood this is what I needed to develop at,” Tranquill said last spring when he first moved from rover to Buck linebacker.
The other half of his motivation came to fruition, as well. When Tranquill first announced his intention to return for a fifth year at the Irish postseason awards in December of 2017, he pointed to the most-humbling loss of the 2017 season.
“It started after the Miami game, just on the busses, realized that we probably weren’t going to make the College Football Playoff anymore and realized everything everyone had put into this thing,” Tranquill said. “I felt I owed it to this team in my heart to come back and finish what we started.”
The Playoff certainly did not go as Tranquill and Notre Dame would have wanted, but he did at least get the Irish that far.
Tranquill is the fourth linebacker drafted in the Brian Kelly era, following Darius Fleming in 2012 (No. 165 overall), Manti Te’o in 2013 (No. 38) and Jaylon Smith in 2016 (No. 34).
Tranquill joins first-round pick and former teammate Jerry Tillery with the Chargers.