Notre Dame Notes: Irish senior Drue Tranquill emotional about (possible) final home game
Drue Tranquill never thought he’d be in the position that he is at this point of his life, so therefore, the Notre Dame senior never takes a single day as a leader of the Fighting Irish football program for granted.
Entering his senior year at Carroll High School, there weren’t an abundance of high-major programs recruiting Tranquill, but for whatever reason, veteran Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly was intrigued by the potential of Tranquill and he ignored the skeptics – some of whom were part of the Irish coaching staff – and recruited Tranquill anyway.
It was one of the more astute decisions made by Kelly in his tenure.
Tranquill has developed into one of the best players – on and off of the field – for Notre Dame and on Saturday, he may be running out of the tunnel at Notre Dame Stadium for the final time.
The eighth-ranked Fighting Irish (8-2) will host Navy (6-3) at 3:30 p.m. (NBC) to close out the home schedule for this season.
“I cherish every opportunity I get to run out of that tunnel,” Tranquill said. “Whether this is my last game or not, I’m going to cherish it and really going out there and getting a win for our seniors.”
Tranquill has endured a pair of knee injuries in his time with the Irish and because of that, he has the option of returning for a fifth year next fall. He graduates in December with a degree in mechanical engineering, but may pursue an opportunity to play professionally.
“What I’ve been through at Notre Dame,” Tranquill said, “just with having two knee injuries and kind of everything I’ve gone through, to just go out of that tunnel and walk out on that field is a special moment each and every opportunity I get. Whether it’s a decision to leave or whether it’s a decision to do something else or whether it’s an injury, you never know when your last snap is.”
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Tranquill has played in 36 games and registered 183 tackles, including 12 for a loss.
He was moved from safety to “rover” linebacker this season and the move has resulted in his best season to date.
Tranquill ranks third on the Irish with 62 tackles and has recovered three fumbles. He is also serving as a team captain.
“This Saturday will be a little different,” Tranquill said, “with my parents being down on the field and getting to run out to them. It’ll be kind of a culmination of everything I’ve accomplished to this point. I’ll try not to cry, man. This thing means a lot to me. So yeah, it’ll be special.”
Most 2018 NFL Draft projections have Tranquill rated as a draftable prospect, meaning anywhere from the fifth to seventh rounds. At 6-foot-2, 231 pounds, he has the size and tackling skills to play outside linebacker, as well as special teams.
Notre Dame will wear special uniforms Saturday designed by Under Armour and featuring a look from the era of legendary coach Knute Rockne.
“I think that it’s a unique opportunity with this uniform to celebrate the past while creating the future,” Under Armour Design Director Nick Billiris said in a release earlier this year. “That’s why we incorporated some of these elements that harkens back to the 1920s and 1930s.”
Kelly said the players have gotten used to the unique footwear in practices this week and they will test out their new helmets during a workout today.
“It’s important that they break them in,” Kelly said of the new cleats, “because they actually look like hiking boots. But they are the same shoes and the kids like the shoe a lot. It’s just a matter of breaking in a new shoe.”
“At first glance, you see the brown boots and the jersey and the helmet, but the players really liked it. They’re excited.”
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