Mike Elston was in Fort Wayne last Friday to watch Drue Tranquill, but the Irish assistant coach couldn’t help but notice Justin Tranquill as well.
Drue’s younger brother rushed for 171 yards on nine carries, had a pair of 90-yard punt returns, scored four total touchdowns and had a fifth called back in leading Carroll High School to a 56-0 victory over Columbia City.
“Drue called Coach Elston the next day,” said Justin. “Coach Elston was telling Drue about how he sees me being a successful BCS running back and when I was talking to him, he said that game should earn me a scholarship from Notre Dame, but obviously they’re focused on the 2014 recruiting class.
“They still have to review my film, get to know me better and get me up for some visits. I’m just excited to get in contact with Coach Elston and to get my recruiting process started.”
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound junior already holds a pair of offers from Toledo and Eastern Michigan. The Toledo offer came during his sophomore year and the Eastern Michigan one came this past summer. It’s all been very exciting for Justin, especially knowing his brother’s recruitment didn’t take off until a much later date.
“It’s just a confidence-booster to see how far Drue got in such a short time,” Justin said. “I’m already ahead of the game, so it’s exciting to me to know that my process is already underway and I have a lot of time to go.”
Tranquill is also receiving interest from schools like Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, Vanderbilt and Missouri among others. He’s not feeling any stress at this point and just wants to continue working hard and impressing coaches.
“I’m just giving all the glory to God and trying to go out and do what he’s blessed me with and the rest will take care of itself,” Justin said.
With 4.45-speed, different schools are recruiting the younger Tranquill for different positions. While the Irish see him as a running back, Michigan likes him at safety, Purdue sees him at either safety or slot receiver and the two schools that have already offered think he can play on both sides of the ball.
Tranquill grew up liking offense, but has come to appreciate playing defense of late.
“Honestly, I’d just be happy to play the sport I love in college, so I’m willing to play whatever it takes to get me to that next level,” he said.
For his part, Drue Tranquill continues to try to decide between the school he’s already committed to, Purdue, and Notre Dame. That process will bring him back to South Bend for the USC game this weekend and, as he has twice before, Justin will come along too.
Justin joined his brother at the Irish’s camp this summer, where they met with Elston and saw the facilities before the camp started.
“I just got a good feel for what the program was all about,” he said.
A large number of participants made one-on-one reps scarce, but Justin made the most of the ones he received.
“We did do some one-on-ones and I was balling out,” he said. “They were talking to me and showing interest. They were more focused on Drue, but it was still just a good experience to go up there visit and get a feel for the campus. I really enjoyed it and I love everything about Notre Dame.”
Justin got to experience Notre Dame again last month for the Michigan State game.
“That’s got to be one of my favorite trips I’ve been on,” he said. “Everything about it; the people there, the coaching staff, everyone was awesome. They were treating us great. They were really friendly and inviting. It was almost like a home, so it was just a great feeling overall.
He was impressed watching the Irish walk to Notre Dame Stadium threw a swarm of fans before the game.
“It was just intense seeing all of the Notre Dame fans cheering them on and giving them high-fives,” he said. “You can just picture yourself walking through that and it was just a really cool experience.”
He’s expecting an even better atmosphere on Saturday night.
“It’s USC,” said Justin. “It’s a pretty big game. I’m pumped about it. From the last game’s experience, I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like this time.”
Like his brother, Justin is looking forward to meeting more of the Irish’s current commitments this weekend.
“I’m kind of excited to get to meet with them too because if I were to play there, you’d want to be able to get along with the people you’re going to be playing with for four years.”
Getting a preview of the intensity of the recruiting process with Drue has been a “blessing” for Justin and he knows he’ll be fortunate in the future as well.
“I know that if I’m ever struggling with my process, I can definitely go to him and get some advice,” Justin said of his brother. “He’s been through a lot of it and a lot of it happened to him fast because he got in the process late.
“He’s handled it really well. He’s probably the biggest role model of my life. I look up to him. He’s got great leadership ability. It’s awesome to watch.”
Justin will make his own decision when it’s time, but admits Drue’s decision could affect his “to a degree.”
“If he went to Notre Dame, I think that’d be awesome because it’d be a great experience for me because I know Notre Dame has a medical school and that’s something I’d like to pursue,” Justin said. “At the same time, if he went to Purdue, I love the coaching staff there and there are a lot of positive things there.
“Those are two awesome schools and I love them both.”
Justin hasn’t visited all of the schools he’s interested in yet, but it could be hard to pass up an another opportunity to team up with his brother.
“I’ve always had dreams of playing with Drue in college since we were kids because it’d be an awesome experience to keep playing with your brother through college,” said Justin. “At the end of the day, it has to be one of those decisions where it’s going to benefit me best.
“College isn’t just going to be a four-year decision about football, it’s going to be a 40-year decision. It’s going to determine the rest of your life, so I’m going to have to choose something that’s best for me, but if there’s a situation that fits what I’m pursuing in life and Drue ends up playing there too, I’d definitely jump on board because it’s always been a dream to play with him in college.”