After enrolling early this winter, Andrew Trumbetti has forced his way into the starting lineup. The freshman defensive end is an early beneficiary of a scheme change, but also the type of player that demanded an opportunity thanks to his physical talent and relentless motor.
On pace to start Saturday against Rice, Trumbetti would be Notre Dame’s first freshman starter along the defensive line since Anthony Weaver. He’ll be counted on to play key snaps on a very young defensive front, a new generation of defender that’ll be asked to do quite a bit early in his career.
Let’s take a closer look at the New Jersey native.
6'3.5" 251 lbs.
Freshman, No. 98
There’s a bit of discrepancy between recruiting services in the way they view Trumbetti, but it’s clear that Notre Dame seems to think that Trumbetti is the four-star prospect and top-shelf blue-chipper than 247 saw, not the three-star player that Rivals evaluated.
Either way, Trumbetti’s offer list showed quite a few programs that saw the same thing, with Trumbetti committing early to the Irish, but still racking up offers from Florida, Florida State, Miami and Michigan State.
Here’s what Brian Kelly had to say about Trumbetti on Signing Day, a clear sign that they saw an elite athlete, both on tape and after getting an early look at him before the start of spring practice.
“The thing that I would say about Andrew, the thing that really put him over the top for us is when we were watching his film, he was returning kickoffs in high school, and not many times do you see a defensive lineman returning kickoffs,” Kelly said. “We knew about his athletic ability right away.”
That Trumbetti is already in the starting lineup seemingly says all you’d want. But we’ll find out if Trumbetti is just a physically advanced player or a guy that’s just scratching the surface -- and already really good.
Until we get a look at Trumbetti coming off the edge, there are going to be questions about his top-end athleticism. That might be part of the burden of being a white defensive end from New Jersey, but Trumbetti’s going to have every opportunity to dispel those stereotypes quickly.
Notre Dame doesn’t have a pure 4-3 defensive end on their roster. That Trumbetti fits that role grants him the chance to win the starting job. But saying he didn’t earn it takes away from the work Trumbetti put in since heading to campus early and beating out Romeo Okwara for a starting spot.
How well Trumbetti produces on the stat sheet likely says a little bit about Brian VanGorder as well as the freshman. If he’s capable of racking up a half-dozen sacks, then it’s a successful season, but also means that the Irish were able to manufacture a pass rush and put Trumbetti in a position to succeed.
Trumbetti needs to show he’s capable of doing more than just rushing the passer. He’ll be responsible for setting the edge of the defense and needs to hold up against the run as well. That makes his relationship with defensive line coach Mike Elston absolutely crucial, and he’ll need to be able to keep on (or build upon) the 251 pounds he’s playing at, a number probably lighter than optimal as he grows in the program.
Those that have seen Trumbetti play, either in high school or down at the Under Armour All-American game, tend to be believers in his ability to be an elite talent. If he’s at all capable of it, VanGorder and Elston will get it out of him, especially with the lack of pass rushers joining the 2015 recruiting class.
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