POINT-COUNTERPOINT: Notre Dame’s Drue Tranquill should leave for the NFL

North Carolina State's Kelvin Harmon (3) is tackled by Notre Dame's Drue Tranquill (23) during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017, in South Bend, Ind. Notre Dame won 35-14. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

North Carolina State's Kelvin Harmon (3) is tackled by Notre Dame's Drue Tranquill (23) during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017, in South Bend, Ind. Notre Dame won 35-14. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Notre Dame senior linebacker Drue Tranquill doesn’t need advice from sportswriters.

Consider: He’s a mechanical engineering major who, according to Irish Illustrated, worked this semester on projects involving thermal management systems, venture capital and solar power.

Me? I had to check whether I’m using the right spelling of capital.

But – there’s always a “but” with sportswriters, isn’t there? – like every Notre Dame fan and media member, I’m fascinated by the football decision on Tranquill’s plate. He must decide whether to return to Notre Dame for a fifth season next year or take his degree in December and pursue playing in the NFL. And I have an opinion on that.

Go pro, young man.

If it’s your dream to play in the NFL, now is the time.

RELATED: POINT-COUNTERPOINT, Notre Dame’s Drue Tranquill should NOT leave for the NFL

Football has been far from easy for the Carroll High School alum, although he has incredible talent and work ethic. He has suffered two torn ACLs. Twenty years ago, one of those would have been career-threatening, if not ending. Thanks to medical advances and his inner drive, Tranquill came back to play, and become one of the best players on Notre Dame’s squad. He’s an NFL prospect.

Sure, there are factors that could pull him back to Notre Dame. The camaraderie and closeness of a college locker room won’t be matched in the pros. There would be a chance to make a run at a national championship after a strong 2017 season. College is more fun than the NFL.

But (yes, another one) if Tranquill has visions of seeing if he can play at the highest level, now is the time.

He’ll have earned his degree, which should be goal No. 1 in college. His academic achievement and intelligence is obvious. He’ll land a great career in the business world and, more than likely, become a successful entrepreneur. When football is over, that’s as close to a guarantee as you’ll find.

His best chance in the NFL is now.

None of the reasons for returning to Notre Dame are guaranteed, any more than an NFL career. I don’t even like mentioning this, but there’s a risk of injury if he returns to college. He knows the risk, given his own history. He also watched as former Notre Dame teammate Jaylon Smith suffered his devastating injury in his final college game.

Presuming this season ends with Tranquill fully healthy, it’s a perfect time to make his NFL run.

There’s the not-small matter of financial gain. A rookie NFL paycheck, even if Tranquill is on a squad primarily as a special teams player, would give him a jumpstart on his life ahead. The rookie minimum salary in the NFL in 2017 is $465,000, according to Forbes. That’s the low end.

Tranquill knows the fragility of the human body, even for a young man who is in the best shape possible. Injuries happen. There’s a small window of time for playing in the NFL, unless you’re Tom Brady. The average career length for a linebacker, according to a 2016 Wall Street Journal report, is three years.

Three years isn’t long. It’s long enough to set a financial foundation.

Let’s take money out of it, if that’s even possible.

Tranquill is in a position now, at the peak of his health and shape, to make a run at the NFL. He has a chance to see if he can play with the best football players in the world. I’m guessing somewhere along the way, he dreamed of being an NFL player. So very, very few football players ever have that opportunity.

There’s no wrong decision for Tranquill. He’ll have his degree in hand. He’s an incredibly bright guy with a bright future.

The fact remains, when it comes to college football, he’s been there, done that. He’s had a great run. He’s sung the school song, reveled in the college atmosphere, made lifelong friends.

If Tranquill wants a new challenge, a more difficult challenge, and a chance to show how far he can take his tremendous football skills, now is the time. He’s ready for his NFL shot now. That’s just my opinion, of course. He doesn’t need my advice.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Reggie Hayes at rhayes@news-sentinel.com.

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