Justin Tranquill, a soon-to-be senior defensive back at Fort Wayne Carroll, is ready to get out and make a name for himself this summer, just like his brother did this time last year.
"It's really exciting for me just because I was kind of Drue's younger brother last summer and in his shadow a little bit, so I wasn't getting a lot of the attention last year," he said. "For it to be focused on me now, and for me to have the opportunity to go out and show out in front of these coaches, it's a blessing."
The 5-foot-11 safety was a standout at Michigan State on Sunday as he got his summer camp circuit started in June, or as he and some of his teammates at Athletes With Purpose call it, "Money Month."
"I went in there knowing and realizing they only have 14 scholarships to give for their upcoming class because they have a small senior class leaving," he said. "From the get go, you have to come out and show something if you want to get that offer. …
"I went out there today and I showed them I can play and was thankful I was able to stay away from injury and went out there, did my thing, showed out and it was a good start to my summer."
Tranquill worked out at cornerback through much of the drill segment of the camp and in one-on-ones, but shifted to safety for the 7 on 7 portion. Between the two, he pulled down six interceptions, showing good ability to break on the ball and read the quarterback.
"I would say due to the training I have through AWP, one on ones were nothing new for me," he said. "I've been doing those for a while now, so I was able to go up, show my press skills and show my corner skills, man on and up in someone's face and show my jamming skills.
"In 7 on 7, I went up to Coach (Harlon) Barnett because originally I was going to play corner in 7 on 7 and I asked him where he wanted me to play and he said go play safety because there were a lot of corners and there wasn't enough safeties. I went and played safety and was able to show my off skills, show instincts more and sit back and read the quarterbacks and receivers. I ended up doing very well there, too."
He said he is comfortable at either safety or cornerback, even though from playing cornerback in high school he admittedly has more experience playing closer to the line of scrimmage. On the other hand, he finds safety a natural fit.
"I don't know what it is, but I've always felt like I have instincts at that position, just sitting back and having good closing speed," he said. "When the quarterback throws the ball, I can always make a play easily."
After another camp, Tranquill is very familiar with Michigan State at this point. His first contact was at a camp after his freshman year, where he was told after working out at running back that he was not a fit for what the Spartans look for at the position, but the contact has changed since then.
"It was motivation now and no hard feelings or anything, but it's funny to look back now," he said. "Since last summer, I have talked to a couple of their coaches. Obviously, they were still recruiting Drue then, but this year, Coach (Dave) Warner came into the school in December to see me. We have been sending direct messages back and forth over Facebook and stuff like that and staying in contact.
"I think this camp was really big for me and I think it will bump me up on the list of prospects they have."
Now, he hopes the interest is there because he has viewed Michigan State as one of the top schools he identified once he realized he wanted to play college football.
"Not only because of the skill they have in football and the program, but the school itself. – it's a great university," he said. "You can't based your decision for a college off the coaches, but there's something there with the coaches. Coach Dantonio is really down to earth guy and really seems to know what he's doing with the program and it shows in their success and the record they've had. It's a great school overall and a whole lot of positions."
As he completes those camps, he hopes to have a decision by the end of summer as a best-case scenario, but is open to waiting as long as necessary.
"I don't want to put a timeframe on it because I could wind up committing and then other opportunities could present themselves," he said. "Before this whole process started, I knew I wanted to wait until I found that piece of heart. I didn't want to rush a decision just because of a timeframe."