Andrew Trumbetti transforms into leader on Irish defensive line
Marek Mazurek | Friday, November 17, 2017
Coming into 2017, no one was expecting much from Andrew Trumbetti.
Or from anyone on the Irish defensive line, for that matter.
In 2016, the entire line managed 16 tackles for a loss and three sacks. And then it lost two players for the NFL in Jarron Jones and Isaac Rochell.
But this season, Notre Dame’s front seven — and the defensive line — has set the tone for a top-50 rush defense which has allowed only seven rushing touchdowns all season. That type of turnaround started with changing the culture of the program Trumbetti said on Sept. 13.
“It starts with the room,” Trumbetti said. “The whole defensive line group’s got to have the right kind of attitude and [defensive line coach Mike] Elston has made sure to instill that in us, and then us more experienced guys make sure to instill that in the younger guys.”
That change in the unit’s culture has bred a new sense of chemistry within the group, with Trumbetti and fellow senior Jay Hayes setting the tone.
“I feel like I try to set an example,” Trumbetti said. “A lot of the upperclassmen set the example. Jay can be the jokester but it’s not like he’s taking away from what we’re trying to do. When it’s time to work, we work and that’s it. That’s the way it is for everyone: We know when to have a good time and when to get serious.”
After 10 games, it’s evident that chemistry and depth has bolstered the group’s on-field play, in addition to Trumbetti’s own. Last year Trumbetti put together 26 tackles with .5 tackles for a loss. With two regular-season games left to play in 2017, Trumbetti has 21 tackles with 3.5 tackles for a loss, half a sack and five quarterback hurries.
“We’re not worried when any of us go in,” Trumbetti said. “It’s just really great to know that I don’t need to watch Jay and Jay doesn’t need to watch me. You don’t have to run in there like you’re worried about the guy’s experience, you trust the guy on both sides. That’s great for the coaching staff and great for the team.”
For Trumbetti, that improvement started in his offseason workouts during spring practice.
Trumbetti was ranked as the No. 85 overall player in his class by 247Sports, 97th by ESPN and 166th by Scout.com. When he joined the team as a freshman, he weighed in at 251 pounds and was known more for his speed.
“Trumbetti, he’s showing progress in the pass rush,” former Irish defensive line coach Keith Gilmore said in the spring of 2016. “He’s probably our quickest guy. He’s got the most speed off the edge, and just finding what he’s good at. … He’s got the physical ability to do it.”
And Trumbetti has showed flashes of that speed throughout his Notre Dame career.
Like in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl versus Ohio State, when Trumbetti recorded a sack and two tackles for a loss. Or against Wake Forest in 2015, when the Demarest, New Jersey, native intercepted a pass and ran it back 28 yards for a touchdown.
Now in his senior year, Trumbetti measures in at 263 pounds and he said his workouts under new strength and conditioning coach Matt Balis have made him bigger, stronger and able to play at a high level more consistently.
“I’ve put on a lot of weight, which has helped me,” Trumbetti said. “Jay’s been really physical. He’s always been physical but he’s more consistent with it now. We’re playing like upperclassmen and being better players. All the weight that I’ve put on is good weight. There’s no sloppy weight.”
Now, even their counterparts on the offensive line are taking notice.
“I give these guys a lot of credit because everybody, and a lot of people in this room [the media], have given them a ton of crap since we’ve moved forward from last season,” Irish graduate student offensive lineman Mike McGlinchey said. “We’ve got guys from [sophomore] Daelin [Hayes] to [junior] Jerry [Tillerry] to Trumbetti to [senior Jonathan] Bonner, anybody that’s going to play for us up front is going to play their hearts out, and that’s all you can really ask for them. They’ve done a great job ever since camp started and even in spring ball working on improving.”
In his last game at Notre Dame Stadium, Trumbetti and the Irish will take on Navy — a team Trumbetti recorded a career-high six tackles against last season. Beyond that, a berth in a New Year’s Six bowl could await Notre Dame if it wins out.
But Trumbetti hasn’t been concerned with outside expectations or bowl possibilities all season.
“We weren’t focused on any of that. We don’t care,” Trumbetti said. “We know how hard we worked in the offseason and that’s all that matters.”