A ‘Tranquill’ force in the secondary
Brian Hartnett | Monday, September 22, 2014
When he took the field before Notre Dame’s 30-14 win over Purdue at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sept. 13, Irish freshman safety Drue Tranquill saw a glimpse of what could have been.The Fort Wayne, Indiana, native originally committed to Purdue in July of 2013, but he flipped his commitment to Notre Dame in November of last year.
Tranquill said he thought about his original commitment before the matchup with the Boilermakers, but his mind was mostly focused on his role in the Notre Dame defense.
“Obviously, you have to think about [the past], going into it,” he said. “Obviously, I was committed there, I love [Purdue head] coach Darrell Hazell, but it was something where we had to do it as a business, so we had to come in with the preparation to win, and that’s what I was focused on — I was focused on winning the football game, not the previous emotions.”
Tranquill has likely had little time to think about the past with the several different positions he has played for the Irish. Tranquil has played at safety and — in the mold of fellow converted safeties junior John Turner and sophomore James Onuwualu — at linebacker, along with time on special teams.
Tranquill said several teammates and coaches have helped get him up to speed in the short time he has been on campus.
“It’s extremely tough, and it’s something I couldn’t have done on my own,” he said. “As I mentioned before, I had [graduate assistant Kyle McCarthy], obviously the safeties, [defensive coordinator Brian] VanGorder — those guys helped me with the linebacker stuff, and our special teams group did a great job teaching me as well.”
Tranquill likewise credited fellow Fort Wayne native and off-season training partner sophomore linebacker Jaylon Smith for helping guide him through his early challenges at Notre Dame.
“We trained at the same place, AWP [Sports Training], so he’s just a good guy I could go to and see what things were going to be like when I first came here,” Tranquill said of Smith.
Thus far, the extra guidance and coaching seems to have paid off for Tranquill, as he leads all Irish freshmen with nine tackles through three games. Against Purdue, Tranquill was forced into the role of strong safety after sophomore Max Redfield was ejected for targeting and junior Nicky Baratti went down with a shoulder injury.
Tranquill said despite his limited college experience, he was well prepared to step in against Purdue.
“You come to Notre Dame for a reason; it’s not the sit on the bench or sit on the sideline,” he said. “You want to help this University and help this school win football games, so when you prepare for something your whole life, when the moment comes, you can’t shy down. So, with the help of my guys, my teammates, it’s something where you have to show up when the lights come on.”
Tranquill is not only balancing multiple roles on the field. He is also an intended mechanical engineering major with a heavy course load.
“It’s extremely difficult … I’m balancing 17 credit hours and football’s like a 40-hour-per-week job, so it’s something where you definitely have to have the help of others to get through, but it’s something I’m going to try to push through,” Tranquill said.
And if Irish head coach Brian Kelly’s comments are to be believed, Tranquill should have no problem pushing himself or the Irish through.
“He was such a locked-in kid,” Kelly said of Tranquill in his Purdue postgame press conference. “We’re able to do some things with him, and he’s only been here, what, eight, 10 weeks? Where would we be without that young man? It’s really pretty incredible.”