Drue Tranquill’s Return is Huge for Notre Dame Football

Some great seasons for Notre Dame in recent years have been given head starts by the return of a standout player for either a 5th year or a surprise senior year when they could have left for the NFL.  Friday night Notre Dame found out that senior ROVER Drue Tranquill will return for a 5th year potentially sparking another such season for the Irish.

This is huge news for Notre Dame heading into 2018.  Notre Dame has the chance to return the core of a defense that showed a lot of signs of improvement before eventually wearing down a little and coming back down to earth.  Drue Tranquill’s quick assimilation to his new ROVER position was a big reason for the turnaround that the Irish defense experienced.  After moving from safety, Tranquill finished 3rd on the team in tackles with 74 and tied for second in tackles for loss with 8.5.  He also lead the team in fumble recoveries with 3 while adding 1.5 sacks and an interception.

With Tranquill back for next season, Notre Dame clearly has one of its captains set in stone at this point.  Aside from Tranquill’s strong performance on the field, he is one of the unquestioned leaders on the team as well after serving as captain in 2017.  He will be overseeing a group that has the potential to be a very veteran rich squad.

Getting Tranquill on board for a 5th year was the first of what will hopefully be a few dominoes to fall in Notre Dame’s favor.  Both Jerry Tillery and Tevon Coney are still contemplating their NFL futures though with neither currently projected to be very high picks, there is a solid chance that both return along with Tranquill.  Should that happen, Notre Dame’s defense has the chance to be a special unit next year.

While the defense faltered down the stretch this year, remember the strides this unit made from 2016 when the Notre Dame defense looked like a clown car.  Mike Elko came in an immediately turned things around.  Eventually a combination of opposing offenses spotting weaknesses and adjusting and Notre Dame still feeling the effects of the old strength and conditioning program led to a drop off at the end of the year.  Neither the defense nor the S&C program changes were expected to be completely fixed in just one off-season.

This off-season though is when the changes made last year should really start to show the benefits.  A second off-season under Matt Balis in the weight room should help build this team to be better prepared for November (if the ridiculous schedule decisions don’t submarine those efforts) and a second off-season under Elko will create a much greater level of familiarity for the defense.

Drue Tranquill’s ascendance into such a prominent and vital cog for Notre Dame is a testament to the kid’s perseverance and commitment.  After suffering ACL injuries in back to back seasons in 2014 and 2015, some kids might not have had it in them to put in the work needed to get back on the field.  Not only has Tranquill done the work to get back on the field, but he is thriving on it and only getting better.

Mike Elko still has a lot of work left to get this defense into the elite category but with the strides we saw made this year, Notre Dame fans should feel reasonably confident that is the direction this defense is headed.  Getting Tranquill back for 2018 makes that all the more possible in 2018.

Tranquill was the first domino.  Now all eyes will be on Jerry Tillery’s decision.  If he follows suit, the Notre Dame defense will be set up extremely well in 2018.

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  1. How awesome would it be if all of our NFL and 5th year potential guys lost their minds and came back and formed a collaborative statement that they all just want to win a national championship together?

    Either way, I respect and support their decisions, especially Adams who couldn’t have done much more, this year or next, to raise his draft status. I’m really happy for him and hopefully all of the hard work will pay off in his favor.

  2. Great news on Tranquill. Gonna need him. He’s a leader and his staying might weigh in on others contemplating. Tranquill’s voice is being heard in South Bend , on campus , in the dorms and across ND nation. Tillery and Coney are hearing the cries–and they aren’t going nowhere. Go Irish.


  4. Tranquill has a good shot at making someone’s AA team next year…I’d be surprised if he did not.

    BGC ’77 ’82

  5. What’s most intriguing is that it allows for gradual development of the backup rovers like Jordan Genmark-Heath, DJ Morgan, Shayne Simon and perhaps Jeremiah Owusu-Koromoagh.
    That fact alone may well be more important than Tranquill’s leadership, a fact that is important as the other defensive captains, Morgan and Tranquill, are out of eligibility.
    Further, Tranquill can serve as a role model and mentor for Simon.
    What is even stranger is that now Elko can look at his defense and have a meeting room with FIVE guys who have had multiple starts as D-1 College Safeties:
    Alohi Gilman

    That is unusual in terms of pure experience, and frosh like Derrick Allen and Paul Moala will merely heighten the

    To Damian’s larger point, the defense should be marginally improved, but the real improvement will probably come in ’19.

    Damian’s points about understanding are all valid, but Elko has other virtues: to wit, he plays a lot of defensive players at every level, not a feature of Van Gorder or Diaco or Mattison.
    Thus, players have OBSERVED that they will get snaps commensurate with effort and performance, and that should
    make Spring Practice fairly interesting.

    On a more somber note, Tranquill is one spoke of a three legged stool: the others are Tillery and Coney. If either or both depart it would be difficult to project any defensive improvement for 2018.

  6. So ND will finish 2018 regular season by playing four of their last five games on the road, with their last home game (Senior Day) vs. Florida State?
    Swarbick’s decision to Shamrock NDs last home game to Yankee Stadium versus Syracuse is but another reminder that he will “follow the money” regardless how that impacts the team’s chances at success.
    That “deal” trumps whether or not Adams, Tillery, E.Q., or Coney return, and should assist yet another (seemingly annual) November collapse.
    How many athletic administrations sabotage their program’s chances for success ? NDs huge endowment and NBC contract still aren’t enough dollars for Swarbick. That ND football must again overcome an athletic administration as they did with Swarbick (when he played Harpo Marx without a horn in silence ) during the “frozen five” fiasco of the recent past further adds to this fan’s disgust with NDs athletic administration.
    When is enough enough, Mr. Swarbick?
    “Although the odds be great or small, ‘ol Notre Dame must overcome all- even their own administration onward for dollars more.”

  7. We’ll see. Every year we hear, next year is going to be the year they break out. I don’t trust anything with this team anymore.

    With that being said, I’m not bailing on Elko yet. I do happen to agree that the defense did make improvements from last year (though it would have been hard not to). While my patience for BK is at an end, I do want too see what Elko can bring to the table next season. I like that he’s a teaching coach too. He doesn’t just tell his players what to do, he explains why, which helps the players buy in. It’s important that the players believe in the schemes they are playing. Tillery is a great example of that. A player that could have been a liability because of his history turns into the key contributor he thought he would be. Tranquill is another. And the secondary, while by no means elite, wasn’t as bad as I thought it could be.

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