Tomorrow marks the start of Senior Bowl practices, and amongst the North linebackers will be Notre Dame graduate Drue Tranquill. College football fans are likely familiar with Tranquill, as he’s one of those players who have seemingly been around forever.
The Senior Bowl serves as a stepping stone for the NFL, but it’s important to remember just what Tranquill had to go through to even get to this point.
Late in Tranquill’s 2014 freshman season, he suffered a torn ACL in a game against Louisville. While the rehab slowed down his offseason, he was able to get healthy before the start of his sophomore season.
Unfortunately, Tranquill would suffer another torn acl in the third game of the season. Multiple surgically repaired knees is never ideal, especially for a linebacker who is tasked with explosive lateral movements throughout games. Regardless, Tranquill redshirted for the rest of that sophomore season and worked his way back once again.
Now three years later, he hasn’t suffered a major injury since. During those three seasons, he racked up 250 tackles.
Tranquill entered Notre Dame as a two-way player at both running back and linebacker. He was projected as a safety and linebacker hybrid because of his athleticism. That athleticism doesn’t quite pop like it did early in his career, two knee surgeries will do that to you.
So Tranquill adjusted, added muscle, rebuilt his game and moved positions to become more of a full-time linebacker. Tasked with playing in space or in the overhang spot, Tranquill thrived in 2018.
NFL teams are going to love Tranquill’s intangibles. He’s a two-time captain, has been recognized as an academic all-american, and was given Notre Dame’s “Weurrel” award for community service. That’s the type of personality that easily assimilates to a locker room.
On the field, Tranquill is entering the NFL at the perfect time for his skill set. Offenses are stretching defenses horizontally and throwing the ball 30+ times per game. Because of the offensive trends of the NFL, hybrid type defenders are becoming more and more coveted.
Tranquill fits this mold, and has the range to hold up in space. While he’s not a linebacker who attacks downhill and beyond the line of scrimmage, he’s still got some juice going sideline to sideline. This bodes well for his coverage ability against running backs out of the backfield, which is becoming a premium trait for linebackers.
On top of that, he’s been an effective blitzer and edge rusher during his college career. This gives Tranquill versatility on obvious passing downs, something that can’t be said about all linebackers.
Even if NFL teams don’t see a future starter in Tranquill, his size and high motor projects him well for special teams. Add in Tranquill’s impeccable off-field reputation, and you have a prospect that will appeal to franchises.
While there is a lot at stake for players this week, Tranquill’s Senior Bowl invite feels like a celebration of overcoming the trials he was put through during his collegiate career.
That’s a guy who is going to find success at the next level.