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Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 15 Phil Jurkovec, consensus four-star quarterback, incoming freshman

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Listed Measurements: 6-foot-5, 200 pounds
2018-19 year, eligibility: Incoming freshman with four years of eligibility remaining, including the 2018 season.
Depth chart: Unless he fails to throw so much as one incompletion throughout all of preseason practice, Jurkovec should be expected to end up Notre Dame’s third quarterback this season, behind senior Brandon Wimbush as the starter and junior Ian Book filling the “1B” role, to use Irish head coach Brian Kelly’s springtime euphemism for backup quarterback.
Recruiting: A consensus four-star prospect and the No. 4 dual-threat quarterback in the class, per rivals.com, Jurkovec pledged to the Irish way back in May of his sophomore year, becoming the first commitment of the class. Offers from Ohio State, Alabama and Clemson never led to any wavering from the U.S. Army All-American.

QUOTE(S)
While Irish recruiting coordinator Brian Polian warned against deeming any recruits the heroes of the future, Kelly did not hesitate to voice hopes Jurkovec could compete for 2018’s starting role when Notre Dame received his national letter of intent during December’s early signing period.

“I want him to challenge,” Kelly said. “I want Brandon to feel competition, and I’m sure Brandon wants to be challenged. … I’m not doing a good enough job if I don’t bring in a great quarterback to challenge the incumbent quarterback. If that threatens Brandon, then he’s not the guy I think he is. I’m pretty certain he’s going to be excited about Phil being here and the competition.”

Even though he will be just a freshman, Jurkovec is unlikely to shrink from the competition or from the responsibilities expected of a quarterback. After all, he was a sophomore starter in high school. How he handled that role was a large part of what caught Kelly’s and Notre Dame’s attention.

“He wasn’t a sophomore that was held back,” Kelly said. “He was a young sophomore that was out there leading his football team against really good competition.

“That was something that we needed to go see — presence, leadership ability, you have to go see that in person. How he interacts with his teammates when he comes back on the sideline. To see that as a sophomore, it was important for us in this recruiting process of making decisions on quarterbacks. I needed to know more about his makeup and that gave us the first glimpse of who he was and what his makeup was.”

WHAT WAS SAID WHEN JURKOVEC’S NATIONAL LETTER OF INTENT ARRIVED
“Every description of Jurkovec may praise both his arm and his legs, but the lanky quarterback’s passing prowess is his greatest strength. His running game keeps defenses honest, furthering his ability to pick them apart over the top.

“Jurkovec’s high school career could not have been much better, but that does not mean he will be in the mix at quarterback from day one. It is more likely he spends his freshman year preserving eligibility and perhaps remains mired behind Wimbush through 2019.”

2018 OUTLOOK
The NCAA changed Jurkovec’s immediate future and erased the fine line Kelly would have needed to toe regarding Jurkovec’s 2018 playing time when the governing body granted freshmen four games of playing time before it impacted their eligibility. Kelly no longer needs to debate developing the touted quarterback in game situations; he can do it without pause in preferred situations.

Thus, fully expect the Irish offense to keep the gas pedal down against Ball State in the season’s second week through the third quarter, looking to build enough of a lead that Jurkovec can lead two or three series in the fourth without worry about the game’s fate. If a similar spot developed a week later against Vanderbilt, or perhaps in October vs. Pittsburgh or November with Syracuse, then Jurkovec could again lead multiple series with upperclassmen at his disposal against genuine Division I defenses. Such development without losing eligibility is literally unprecedented and is something most-obviously applicable to quarterbacks.

The odds are Jurkovec does not see a fifth game. If Wimbush is starting and Book ably backing him up, Notre Dame does not gain much by playing Jurkovec that often. Furthermore, five blowouts in the season would be a bit of a surprise.

Nonetheless, Jurkovec could end up with 300 passing yards and four total touchdowns, all while having four more seasons at his disposal if so desired.

DOWN THE ROAD
Wimbush may return to the Irish in 2019. He could also have such a strong 2018 he opts to head to the NFL while his stock is high. Or he could struggle, worry about further competition in the spring and take the graduate transfer route. All three scenarios are genuinely in play.

Obviously, one of those possibilities likely keeps Jurkovec in a supporting role next season, but it is exceptionally difficult to expect that to last any further. He will be Notre Dame’s starting quarterback in 2020, if not sooner, of course barring injury.

Jurkovec’s recruiting profile does not compare to the deified prospects of the ‘00s, but it may be the highest to arrive on campus since then. His career will thus certainly be compared to the stats of Brady Quinn and Jimmy Clausen. That will be unfair to Jurkovec. As Polian said, “Let’s be careful about who we are anointing the next stars. That puts pressure on 17-, 18-year-old kids. That’s not fair. … Sometimes it takes time, and we need to allow for that learning curve and that process before we start anointing guys as saviors.”

Jurkovec may not be a completely-polished quarterback when he first starts, but few are. He will have a long leash, though, simply due to his raw talents and unique athleticism.

NOTRE DAME 99-to-2:
No. 99 Jerry Tillery, defensive tackle, senior
No. 98 Ja’Mion Franklin, defensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 97 Micah Dew-Treadway, defensive tackle, senior
No. 95 Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle, sophomore
No. 94 Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle, sophomore
No. 91 Ade Ogundeji, defensive end, junior
No. 89 Brock Wright, tight end, sophomore
No. 88 Javon McKinley, receiver, junior
No. 87 Michael Young, receiver, sophomore
No. 86 Alizé Mack, tight end, senior
No. 85 George Takacs, tight end, early-enrolled freshman
No. 85 Tyler Newsome, punter and captain, fifth-year senior
No. 84 Cole Kmet, tight end, sophomore
No. 83 Chase Claypool, receiver, junior
No. 82 Nic Weishar, tight end, fifth-year senior
No. 81 Miles Boykin, receiver, senior
No. 80 Micah Jones, receiver, early-enrolled freshman
No. 78 Tommy Kraemer, right guard, junior
No. 76 Dillan Gibbons, offensive lineman, sophomore
No. 75 Josh Lugg, offensive lineman, sophomore
No. 74 Liam Eichenberg, starting left tackle, junior
No. 72 Robert Hainsey, right tackle, sophomore
No. 71 Alex Bars, left guard and captain, fifth-year senior
No. 70 Luke Jones, offensive lineman, incoming freshman
No. 69 Aaron Banks, offensive tackle, sophomore
No. 68 Jarrett Patterson, offensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 60 Cole Mabry, offensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 57 Trevor Ruhland, offensive lineman, senior
No. 57 (theoretically) Jayson Ademilola, defensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 56 John Dirksen, offensive lineman, incoming freshman
No. 55 Jonathan Bonner, defensive tackle, fifth-year senior
No. 54 John Shannon, long snapper, junior
No. 53 Khalid Kareem, defensive end, junior
No. 53 Sam Mustipher, center and captain, fifth-year senior
No. 52 Bo Bauer, linebacker, early-enrolled freshman
No. 47 Kofi Wardlow, defensive end, sophomore
No. 45 Jonathan Jones, linebacker, junior
No. 44 Jamir Jones, defensive end, junior
No. 42 Julian Okwara, defensive end, junior
No. 41 Kurt Hinish, defensive tackle, sophomore
No. 40 Drew White, linebacker, sophomore
No. 39 Jonathan Doerer, kickoff specialist, sophomore
No. 34 Jahmir Smith, running back, early-enrolled freshman
No. 33 Shayne Simon, linebacker, incoming freshman
No. 31 Jack Lamb, linebacker, early-enrolled freshman
No. 30 Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, linebacker, sophomore
No. 29 Ovie Oghoufo, linebacker, early-enrolled freshman
No. 28 Nicco Fertitta, safety, senior
No. 27 Julian Love, cornerback, junior, second-team All-American
No. 25 Braden Lenzy, receiver, incoming freshman
No. 24 Tommy Tremble, tight end, incoming freshman
No. 24 Nick Coleman, defensive back, senior
No. 23 Drue Tranquill, linebacker, two-time captain, fifth-year senior
No. 22 Asmar Bilal, rover, senior
No. 21 Jalen Elliott, safety, junior
No. 20 Shaun Crawford, nickelback, senior
No. 20 C’Bo Flemister, running back, incoming freshman
No. 19 Justin Yoon, placekicker, senior
No. 19 Justin Ademilola, defensive end, incoming freshman
No. 18 Joe Wilkins, cornerback, incoming freshman
No. 17 Isaiah Robertson, safety-turned-rover, sophomore
No. 16 Noah Boykin, cornerback, incoming freshman
No. 15 D.J. Morgan, safety-turned-linebacker, junior

MEDICAL EXEMPTION
No. 35 David Adams, linebacker, sophomore

OUTGOING TRANSFER
No. 11 Freddy Canteen, receiver, outgoing transfer