Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 11 Ron Powlus III, sophomore QB providing steadiness to a chaotic room

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
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Listed measurements: 6-foot-2 ⅝, 225 pounds.
2022-23 year, eligibility: A sophomore, Powlus has all four seasons of eligibility remaining after not appearing in a game in 2021.
Depth Chart: Three quarterbacks would have to suffer injuries for Powlus to find his way into meaningful snaps this season, which is to say, early-enrolled freshman Steve Angeli is already definitively ahead of Powlus on the Notre Dame depth chart.
Recruiting: Powlus was somewhat of a Signing Day surprise, at least from outside the Irish program. Two MAC schools, Yale and Kentucky had offered him a scholarship, and apparently, Notre Dame had quietly, as well, before December 2020. Admittedly, a knee injury in his junior season in 2019 curtailed some of Powlus’ recruitment, momentum he could not reignite thanks to the pandemic.

QUOTES
Awareness and honesty are vital qualities, in both coaches and players. When then-recruiting coordinator Brian Polian discussed Powlus’ signing in the early signing period in 2020, he did not try to oversell the two- or three-star recruit.

“Powlus’ ceiling may be a solid career backup who can manage a game if the starter is out, and that’s nothing to scoff at,” Polian said. “If you change his last name and put him in a random state, I doubt he lands a Notre Dame offer, but if he is someone that will stick around the program for the long haul, then that is important at quarterback, a position that regularly has transfers.”

NAME, IMAGE, LIKENESS
The first week of December is but a distant memory by now, but as the season rapidly approaches, it is worth remembering some of the events that turned Notre Dame into a public darling, rare territory for the Irish. Powlus and the rest of the quarterbacks publicly politicking for offensive coordinator Tommy Rees and a pay raise remains one of the more absurd and delightful moments in recent history. Of course, Rees leaned into it.

On a more serious note, players finding their voices leads to other genuinely good things.

WHAT WAS PROJECTED A YEAR AGO
“The irony of using Powlus to bolster the quarterbacks room is he has also been “snake-bitten” the last few seasons, to use Polian’s description. A shoulder injury cost Powlus his junior year, and then the pandemic made things rather murky throughout his senior season, though he still led Penn High School to the state playoffs.

“So Powlus will also need to reacclimate himself a bit to football in 2021. He should have plenty of time to do so, since Wisconsin transfer Jack Coan joining the room knocks Powlus down to the fifth quarterback on the depth chart, though perhaps fourth among those healthy.

“At most, Powlus will have scout team duties. …

“The cynical view of pulling in a staffer’s son (former Irish quarterback Ron Powlus, a multi-year starter in the 1990s, works as an associate athletic director at Notre Dame) when the NCAA gives a pass on scholarship maximums will be tested in years to come. If Powlus hangs around, then that view will be rendered as inaccurate as it is pessimistic.

“If Powlus transfers to a mid-tier MAC school, though, then this could end up a win-win. Notre Dame gets depth and maturity in the program, and Powlus has a chance to develop to continue his playing career.”

2022 OUTLOOK
Powlus taking the field on a Saturday this fall will mean one of three things.

1) At least two of sophomore Tyler Buchner, junior Drew Pyne and freshman Steve Angeli have suffered long-term injuries.
2) One of Buchner or Pyne suffered a long-term injury, yet the Irish still blow out nearly every unranked opponent. With a chance to still preserve a year of eligibility for Angeli, Powlus takes over mop-up duty in the fifth such rout, perhaps against Syracuse at the end of October.
3) Angeli has suffered an injury, but a blowout has gotten too ugly to continue to play Pyne. Powlus represents a form of sportsmanship not too far removed from Red Auerbach lighting a cigar on the bench.

Not to be too harsh toward Powlus, but none of those are good situations for Notre Dame, even if one of them hinges on nearly half a dozen 30-point wins.

Instead, Powlus should continue to helm the Irish scout team while providing stability in the quarterbacks room.

DOWN THE ROAD
The mere fact that Powlus is still on the roster lends some credible skepticism to the year-ago thought that his scholarship was solely a pandemic-induced gift. Notre Dame now has three healthy quarterbacks and no scholarships to throw around. If Powlus had been a filler while scholarship maximums were in flux, his clock would have run out. By now

Thus, expect Powlus to represent calm in the constantly-transitioning quarterback through at least the 2023 season. Once graduated, either in 2023 or 2024, Powlus could head to a low-level Group of Five program or perhaps an FCS school to conclude his career.

The former possibility may sound overly ambitious, but after three seasons working in South Bend, Powlus may have more of an immediate ceiling than the recruits such programs would sign, and he would have an entire Irish coaching staff vouching for him.

As one example — not a prediction, just one example — Georgia Southern brought in transfers from Buffalo and Troy this offseason as it tries to transition from an option offense to a more up-tempo approach. Clay Helton — yes, former USC head coach Clay Helton — has his work cut out for him and Will Likely be looking for quarterbacks and receivers wherever he can find them for a couple years.

Could Helton’s former running backs coach reach out with a suggestion down the line? Deland McCullough will certainly be watching the Irish backfield plenty the next two seasons.

Obviously that exact scenario is unlikely, but it is hardly beyond the realm of possibility.

NOTRE DAME 99-TO-0
From Blake Grupe to Braden Lenzy, the offseason countdown begins anew
No. 99 Blake Grupe, kicker, Arkansas State transfer
No. 99 Rylie Mills, junior defensive lineman, a tackle now playing more at end

No. 98 Tyson Ford, early-enrolled freshman, a defensive tackle recruited as a four-star end
No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, sophomore defensive tackle, still ‘as wide as a Volkswagen’
No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, a junior defensive tackle who tore his ACL in March
No. 91 Josh Bryan, sophomore kicker
No. 91 Aiden Gobaira, early-enrolled freshman defensive end, four-star recruit
No. 90 Alexander Ehrensberger, junior defensive end, a German project nearing completion
No. 88 Mitchell Evans, sophomore tight end
No. 87 Michael Mayer, junior tight end, likely All-American
No. 85 Holden Staes, incoming freshman tight end
No. 84 Kevin Bauman, junior tight end
No. 83 Jayden Thomas, sophomore receiver, former four-star recruit
No. 80 Cane Berrong, sophomore tight end coming off an ACL injury
No. 79 Tosh Baker, one of four young Irish offensive tackles
No. 78 Pat Coogan, sophomore center, recovering from a meniscus injury
No. 77 Ty Chan, incoming offensive tackle, former four-star recruit
No. 76 Joe Alt, sophomore starting left tackle
No. 75 Josh Lugg, sixth-year offensive lineman, likely starting right guard
No. 74 Billy Schrauth, early-enrolled freshman offensive guard coming off foot surgery
No. 73 Andrew Kristofic, senior offensive tackle-turned-guard
No. 72 Caleb Johnson, sophomore offensive tackle, former Auburn pledge
No. 68 Michael Carmody, junior offensive line utility man
No. 65 Michael Vinson, long snapper, ‘Milk’
No. 65 Chris Smith, defensive tackle, Harvard transfer
No. 59 Aamil Wagner, consensus four-star incoming freshman offensive tackle
No. 58 Ashton Craig, incoming freshman center
No. 57 Jayson Ademilola, fifth-year defensive tackle, coming off shoulder surgery
No. 56 Joey Tanona, early-enrolled offensive guard coming off a concussion
No. 56 Howard Cross, senior defensive tackle with heavy hands, and that’s a good thing
No. 55 Jarrett Patterson, fifth-year offensive lineman, three-year starting center, captain
No. 54 Jacob Lacey, senior defensive tackle, now lighter and a starter
No. 54 Blake Fisher, sophomore starting right tackle, ‘ginormous’
No. 52 Zeke Correll, senior center or perhaps left guard
No. 52 Bo Bauer, fifth-year linebacker, Ironman
No. 50 Rocco Spindler, sophomore offensive guard
No. 48 Will Schweitzer, sophomore end-turned-linebacker
No. 47 Jason Oyne, sophomore defensive end-turned-tackle
No. 44 Junior Tuihalamaka, early-enrolled freshman linebacker, consensus four-star recruit
No. 44 Alex Peitsch, junior long snapper
No. 42 Nolan Ziegler, early-enrolled freshman linebacker, Irish legacy
No. 41 Donovan Hinish, incoming freshman defensive tackle, Kurt’s brother
No. 40 Joshua Burnham, early-enrolled freshman linebacker-turned-end
No. 34 Osita Ekwonu, senior Vyper end coming off an Achilles injury
No. 31 NaNa Osafo-Mensah, senior defensive end
No. 29 Matt Salerno, fifth-year receiver, punt returner, former walk-on
No. 28 TaRiq Bracy, fifth-year starting nickel back
No. 27 JD Bertrand, senior linebacker recovering from a plaguing wrist injury
No. 25 Philip Riley, sophomore cornerback
No. 25 Chris Tyree, junior running back, possible Irish bellcow
No. 24 Jack Kiser, senior linebacker, second-year starter
No. 23 Jayden Bellamy, early-enrolled freshman cornerback
No. 22 Justin Walters, sophomore safety
No. 22 Logan Diggs, sophomore running back with a shoulder injury
No. 21 Jaden Mickey, early-enrolled freshman cornerback
No. 20 Jadarian Price, early-enrolled freshman running back with a ruptured Achilles
No. 20 Benjamin Morrison, freshman cornerback
No. 18 Chance Tucker, sophomore cornerback
No. 18 Steve Angeli, freshman QB, Blue-Gold Game star
No. 17 Jaylen Sneed, early-enrolled linebacker, Rover of the future
No. 16 Brandon Joseph, Northwestern transfer, preseason All-American, starting safety
No. 16 Deion Colzie, sophomore receiver
No. 15 Tobias Merriweather, freshman receiver, forever a memorable recruitment
No. 15 Ryan Barnes, sophomore cornerback
No. 14 Bryce McFerson, freshman punter facing a Harvard challenge
No. 13 Gi’Bran Payne, freshman running back, late recruit
No. 12 Tyler Buchner, sophomore starting QB
No. 12 Jordan Botelho, a defensive end-turned-linebacker
No. 9 Eli Raridon, incoming freshman tight end with a torn ACL