Tranquill may boost Notre Dame LB corps

South Bend Tribune

If strongside linebacker is where Notre Dame incoming freshman Drue Tranquill does start his college career, he already has tapped into a pretty good resource to learn the ins and outs of the position.

Tranquill, a senior at Fort Wayne Carroll High School, has picked the brain of Irish sophomore linebacker Jaylon Smith, another Fort Wayne product. Smith started all 13 games last season at SAM linebacker but will move inside this year. Smith recently spent 2½ weeks in Fort Wayne between the spring and summer sessions, and he and Tranquill were able to work out together.

"I've worked out with him in the past and whenever he gets a chance to come back, we always get a couple workouts in together, if we can do it," said Tranquill, who said recently that SAM linebacker is where he is most likely ticketed.

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Tranquill was listed as a defensive back when he signed with the Irish, and ND head coach Brian Kelly said on signing day that the staff was slower in offering Tranquill because safety was full when Tranquill really began to open eyes. Kelly, however, liked Tranquill so much that he pulled rank.

"It got to the point where I watched more film, we watched more film. I loved his attitude. I loved the way he played the game. I said, 'We're going to offer him as a head coach's offer.' Head coach can offer anybody, right? 'Coach, we don't have a scholarship.' I said, 'Well, we've got a scholarship now.' So I offered him a scholarship, and we really didn't have a position for him because we just loved the way he played the game, and so that's kind of how the recruiting process went on Drue," Kelly said in February.

"People have asked, 'Does he play safety, does he play running back?' I don't know where he plays, but he's going to play somewhere here at Notre Dame because he's a darned good football player, he's athletic, he's competitive, and we'll find a place for him somewhere."

That somewhere appears to be linebacker, although it's not inconceivable imagining Tranquill moving back to safety if the need arises.

Still, with a nearby resource such as Smith, a Fort Wayne Luers graduate, Tranquill has taken advantage in learning linebacker.

"He kind of taught me the defense a little bit and we spent a lot of time together," Tranquill said, "so it was good."

Mail call

While Tranquill is the latest player in a Fort Wayne pipeline that has recently included Tyler Eifert, John Goodman, Tony Springmann and Smith, incoming freshman offensive lineman Jimmy Byrne is the latest player from his high school -- St. Ignatius in Cleveland -- to sign with the Irish.

Recently graduated linebacker Dan Fox played at St. Ignatius, and prior to that defensive end/outside linebacker John Ryan and wide receiver Robby Parris were teammates at St. Ignatius before signing with the Irish. Both played for Charlie Weis at ND from 2006-09.

Byrne has met neither Ryan nor Parris, but remembers watching them when they were playing at St. Ignatius. And when Byrne committed to ND, Ryan made contact with Byrne, sending him a letter — the old-fashioned kind — to offer congratulations.

"I was going through the recruiting box (at school), because that's where they throw all the mail, and I noticed it was addressed to me but it wasn't a school. It was from a business," Byrne recalled. "I had no idea why it would be addressed to me until I actually got to read it. It was John Ryan's company and he just happened to send it that way."

Byrne has held on to the letter.

"He congratulated me and was happy for me. He just said I'd really enjoy my time up there," the 6-4, 285-pound Byrne said. "I grew up watching him and for him to send me mail congratulating me, it was a cool experience."

Updated rankings

Last week's commitment of linebacker Josh Barajas from Andrean High School in Merrillville gives Notre Dame nine verbal commits to the recruiting class of 2015. The Irish, as of Monday morning, rank 12th in the national rankings, 14th in the list.

Alabama sits in the top spot of both rankings, with Clemson second and Penn State third. Barajas had previously been committed to the Nittany Lions.

More offers

A pair of recruits reported offers from Notre Dame over the weekend. Here’s a breakdown of the prospects:

RB Aca’cedric Ware, 6-0, 196; Cedar Hill (Texas) High: A three-star prospect, Ware reported an offer from Notre Dame on Friday. As a junior, Ware rushed for 1,270 yards on 142 carries and 11 touchdowns for the Class 5-A Division II state champions. His offer list includes USC, Oklahoma, Clemson and Texas Tech, among others. Rivals ranks Ware as the No. 35 running back in the 2015 class. 247Sports slates him No. 60 at the position.

QB Jacob Eason, 6-5, 205; Lake Stevens (Wash.) High: A Notre Dame legacy, Eason reported an offer from the Irish on Saturday. His father, Tony, saw time as a reserve wide receiver in 1985-86. In 10 games as a sophomore, Jacob Eason completed 209 of his 350 passes for 2,941 yards and 23 touchdowns. 247Sports slates him as a five-star prospect, the No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the 2016 class and No. 5 overall. He already holds offers from Alabama, Florida State and Michigan, among others.

Staff writer Tyler James contributed to this story.

Fort Wayne athlete Drue Tranquill, who will soon start his freshman year at Notre Dame, appears ticketed to play linebacker. (Photo Courtesy of the Fort Wayne, Ind., News-Sentinel).