Notre Dame football recruiting: Purdue recruit taking in Irish on Saturday
Drue Tranquill’s pledge to Purdue received its first test 10 days after he gave the Boilermakers his verbal commitment.
When Notre Dame extended an offer to the senior prospect from Fort Wayne on Aug. 2, Tranquill knew he had some thinking to do.
“It was definitely an honor. They had been a school I had my eye on,” Tranquill said of Notre Dame. “I was honored by the scholarship and definitely wanted to give it an honest look like I had everyone else.”
So Tranquill scheduled an unofficial visit to Notre Dame for Saturday, his first look at the Irish since spending time in South Bend for a camp in June. With a week before his first game of the season for Carroll High School, Tranquill wanted to find time to make the trip.
The timing of Tranquill’s offer from Notre Dame put him in a tough position. He had just made a commitment to Purdue’s coaching staff and indirectly the Boilermaker fan base. Now he has been given a new opportunity at a program he previously showed interest.
Receiving more offers didn’t surprise the three-star prospect. Sound advice from mentors around him prepared Tranquill for the challenges in the recruiting process.
“If you understand recruiting, you know that's going to happen,” Tranquill said. “A lot of these bigger schools will wait for these guys to commit, maybe they'll lose a guy they were going after and they'll go after another guy thinking they can snag him. That's just how recruiting works. It's kind of a game almost.”
The game involves carefully crafted pitches, and he’s just starting to hear Notre Dame’s. Tranquill said he’s been told that head coach Brian Kelly wanted to offer him at the end of his camp performance back in June, but the 6-foot-2, 210-pound recruit left campus early to join his Athletes With Purpose training group for the IMG 7-on-7 National Championship in Florida. An offer didn’t come until August as a result of staff vacations.
Conversations with his recruiter, defensive line coach Mike Elston, also revealed the Irish project Tranquill as an inside linebacker in defensive coordinator Bob Diaco’s 3-4 defense. Programs like Purdue have been recruiting Tranquill mostly as a defensive athlete with possibilities at safety and outside linebacker.
Tranquill enters the visit hoping to focus on three aspects: academics, specifically options in engineering, his fit as an inside linebacker and the perspective of the current players. A previous relationship with ND freshman linebacker Jaylon Smith from AWP will certainly aid Tranquill’s ability to get to know his fit on the team.
“When you get to talk to the players, you really get a firsthand account of what they've been able to go through. That's what you're going to go through. A lot of time the coaches will hype it up and make it out to be something it's not. The players are able to experience that firsthand."
Tranquill’s recruitment didn’t start in earnest until this spring. Midwest programs started paying attention to Tranquill after a trip with AWP to U.S. Army National Combine in January. Offers from MAC schools like Toledo, Bowling Green and Miami came first in March. Then visits to Cincinnati, Indiana and Purdue in June produced more offers.
Now in August, Tranquill is caught in the middle of a recruiting battle between two Hoosier programs. Even though he’s from Fort Wayne, neither school has a rooting advantage. Born in Montgomery, Ala., and raised in Chattanooga, Tenn., Tranquill grew up a fan of Auburn and the SEC. He moved to Indiana in the sixth grade.
He settled on a decision to commit to Purdue in July after finding the indescribable feeling that many students encounter on college campuses. The Boilermakers offered him the right combination of academics, proximity to family and opportunities on Saturdays.
"Purdue felt like home. It was the best fit for me,” Tranquill said. “I hadn't really looked into Notre Dame at all. I didn't hold a scholarship offer from them. Every time I've gone down to Purdue it felt like home and the best fit for me. In the end it's a business decision and that's the best place for me as of now.”
For the time being Tranquill remains committed to Purdue, but the Irish will get their fair shot on Saturday.
“What 18-year-old kid wouldn't go check out Notre Dame? We're blessed to have this opportunity to go through this process,” Tranquill said. “Not many kids get to do that. Obviously it's hard with the Purdue fans and the Notre Dame fans here trying to pull you here or pull you there. As long as you go about it the right way with the right mindset and a humble heart, God's going to put me in the right place.”
Elam sets official visit
Defensive tackle Matt Elam, one of Notre Dame's top remaining targets in the 2014 recruiting class, plans to use an official visit to Notre Dame for the Oct. 19 game against USC.
The game, scheduled to kickoff at 7:30 p.m., should be the highlight of Notre Dame's biggest recruiting weekend of the season.
A 6-6, 340-pound prospect, Elam ranks as the No. 2 defensive tackle in the country and No. 10 overall according to 247Sports. Rivals slates Elam as the No. 24 defensive tackle in the country. Elam announced the news on Twitter.