SOUTH BEND – Drue Tranquill is still committed to Purdue, but Notre Dame made an impression on the Carroll linebacker.
Tranquill visited Notre Dame with his parents and girlfriend on Saturday, and he got a lot of questions answered.
"I kind of got to see everything they have to offer, whether it was academics, football, team camaraderie, the campus itself, just everything was great," Tranquill said in a phone interview shortly after leaving campus. "Throughout the day there was just this theme of expectations of excellence. It was just notable in basically everything.
"It is really a community-oriented, family-oriented campus. I mean there's 8,500 students all striving for excellence. When success is a standard, it makes it easier to work hard and stuff. It was just great. All of the guys were great. I watched them practice, hung out with them a little bit and had lunch with them."
Tranquill had lunch with freshmen linebackers Jaylon Smith, a Bishop Luers graduate, and Michael Deebs, along with junior linebacker Joe Schmidt.
He said the players gave him good insight into what it was like being at Notre Dame.
"Basically, they were saying in high school when you get an A on a paper, it would be cool. You are just trying to get by," Tranquill said. "But at Notre Dame, when you get that A on a paper, it's just a sense of relief and a sense of accomplishment. The biggest thing that stuck out to me was just how accomplished you will feel when you get that done in the classroom. You will say, 'Wow, I got a degree from the University of Notre Dame.' "
Tranquill said he was also impressed with how academics are handled for incoming freshmen.
"The coolest thing that stuck out to me academic-wise was the first year at Notre Dame, nothing is intended," Tranquill said. "Basically, everyone goes in undecided, and the first year is like kind of an overview. The first year is going to be basically you're kind of discovering which field is going to be the best for you and what you want to do.
"They give their students a year to kind of do that, take classes and understand more of the fields they are interested in."
Tranquill also got a better grasp of why Notre Dame has interest in making him a middle linebacker. Purdue recruited Tranquill as a defensive athlete and could use him at outside linebacker or safety.
"They definitely see me in the middle spot," said Tranquill, who discussed how he could fit into the Irish's defense with defensive coordinator Bob Diaco and defensive line coach Mike Elston after Saturday's practice. "They see a lot of intangibles there. They want players with a motor, aggressiveness, leadership, they saw all of that in me. They didn't have a spot at safety. They didn't have that many spots at outside linebacker. When they look at their defense and their scheme and how players fit, they don't normally usually go out of their set profile of a player. They even said Jaylon Smith (who is 6-foot-2, 230 pounds) is a small outside linebacker for them, but obviously, Jaylon is a great athlete, so he was kind of an exception.
"They said I'm a profile middle linebacker for them. They said they like to bring in developmental guys that they turn into a product. Obviously, weight-wise, I'm a little smaller, but their weight coach (Paul Longo) says he sees me being 235, 240, no problem. When you look at that, that runs right along with the linebackers they've recently had. Manti Te'o is 6-2, 250, so I'm 6-2 ½, 240. They were able to explain that a little more to me and made me feel a little more comfortable with the idea of possibly playing middle linebacker."
What Tranquill isn't comfortable with is setting a time frame for when he has to decide to stick with his commitment to Purdue or possibly switch to Notre Dame.
"I'm not going to put that added pressure on me," Tranquill said. "It's a lot to handle on top of your senior season. I only get to go through my senior season once, so that is my primary focus right now. Obviously, I'm going to talk it over with my parents and close family friends. But I'm not going to put a time table on it. I'm definitely still committed to Purdue. I got a lot of questions answered today. I got a lot of information presented to me, and I'm going to have to talk it over with my family.
"Obviously, they are two different schools and have different things to offer. I just take what they have into consideration. Ultimately, I'm the one who has to live with my decision and no one else. I just have to take all of that into consideration and make the best decision for myself."