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Sunday, August 13, 2017 1:00 am

Irish's Trumbetti adds weight, says he's better player

CHRIS GOFF | The Journal Gazette

SOUTH BEND – Andrew Trumbetti put a lot on his plate this summer because his goal is to have a full plate in September.

Yes, that means food. Notre Dame's once-undersized defensive end spent his offseason downing thousands of calories per day with the hope of gaining enough weight to prove he can be a legitimate starter.

The 6-foot-4 Trumbetti is up to 265 pounds, an increase of 30 pounds from his lowest playing weight.

“I eat as much chicken and as much rice as I can,” said Trumbetti, revealing a big part of his daily menu. “I just eat when I'm hungry.”

Better to go fowl than foul, which would describe his first three seasons in college.

Rated a four-star prospect in 2013 by several recruiting services, Trumbetti's signing with Notre Dame generated quite a bit of fanfare, but his career has been considered a disappointment thus far.

While football can certainly be an unforgiving game, Trumbetti wants more in 2017. More playing time and definitely more sacks.

“Honestly, it's my senior year,” he said. “I have nothing to lose at this point. I've got everything to prove.”

In 36 career games, Trumbetti has registered two sacks and 14 quarterback hurries.

“I can't wait to watch Andrew Trumbetti; he was up to 262 pounds (at the start of training camp),” Irish coach Brian Kelly said. “I go, 'No way, he's not 262. He's never been 262.' Wait until you see him play.”

Will Trumbetti be a starting defensive end? Maybe, maybe not, with Jay Hayes and Daelin Hayes clear-cut favorites at those spots. Still, Trumbetti is one of the most improved players in camp.

“He looks like the guy we recruited out of high school,” Kelly said. “He was a dominating player in high school (and) had an edge. We did a poor job developing him until this year. He is at that point where he's going to make an impact, and it's going to be fun to watch.”

If Trumbetti had his choice, he'd go out with a bang. That explains why he bulked up, ate chicken and rice almost every day and loaded up on carbohydrates while holding down his body fat. The goal now is keeping the weight.

“I've been making a conscious effort about what I've been putting into my body, my diet and what not,” Trumbetti said. “I just really want to keep this weight on. I feel great at 265. The weight I put on is good weight. It's not sloppy. I feel fast. I haven't lost any speed or anything.”

Trumbetti has been working on expanding his pass-rushing repertoire and adding more power moves to go with his speed rushes. He also expects better leverage at the point of attack when opponents run the ball.

What's more, Trumbetti suggested he never meshed well with defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder, who was replaced with Mike Elko.

“You don't need to yell at me when I make a mistake,” Trumbetti said. “Coach Elko knows that. He lets his players play.”

cgoff@jg.net