Drew Pyne heard Notre Dame’s plans to land a transfer quarterback and sought a new home for 2023, committing to Arizona State this week. Sophomore Irish quarterback Tyler Buchner heard the plans and was far from surprised. They both saw the new-fangled roster management coming from afar.
“I honestly figured they’d bring in someone just because there’s been kind of rumblings about it, and I understand,” Buchner said this weekend. “If somebody gets hurt, you need more depth in the room. You need people.”
He may have been underselling Notre Dame’s need, 2022 making clear the Irish will not remain among the top 10 in the sport without more offensive playmaking. Buchner may be capable of that, but he has not proven as much, his sprained shoulder costing him 10 games this season. An outstanding bowl game performance would not be enough of a sample size to render 2023’s worries moot.
Notre Dame wants to add an experienced, proven quarterback to its room that currently boasts Buchner and his 85 pass attempts, Steve Angeli’s seven career snaps and Ron Powlus III’s scout-team work. Even adding consensus four-star Kenny Minchey when the signing period opens Wednesday will not give the Irish the depth they seek.
Because it is not depth, it is proven talent at the college level.
And via a process of elimination, Notre Dame’s options are becoming more and more clear.
North Carolina State’s Devin Leary committed to Kentucky on Tuesday, hoping to build on the quarterback development success the Wildcats have recently enjoyed. There had been thoughts he may go to Auburn, as there had been with Coastal Carolina’s Grayson McCall, now seemingly destined for Florida. TUESDAY NIGHT UPDATE: Wisconsin’s Graham Mertz is reportedly heading to Florida, though with two seasons of eligibility remaining, it could be conceivable that both he and McCall end up in Gainesville.
The UCLA possibilities evaporated with Kent State’s Collin Schlee’s commitment, notable in that Clemson’s D.J. Uiagalelei remains on the market and had always seemed likely to return to his hometown of Los Angeles.
Georgia Tech’s Jeff Sims committed to Nebraska over the weekend. And Bo Nix announced he would return for one more season at Oregon, two more spots filled. Oregon, in particular, looked poised to pick up one of the biggest names remaining thanks to its fantastic season with the previously-enigmatic Nix.
Rattling off these names and schools serves a purpose. As long as Notre Dame’s pursuit remains ongoing, the elimination of targets and destinations serves as the strongest indicator of what may come the Irish way.
As of now, the biggest schools still expected to chase a transfer quarterback are Auburn, TCU, Oklahoma State, Louisville and Notre Dame. Wisconsin could be added to this list, but picking up a former four-star recruit, sophomore Nick Evers from Oklahoma, may satiate Luke Fickell’s immediate wants.
Three words are bolded there for a reason. Spend any time on this conversation with those in the industry and two quarterbacks are mentioned that are not in the portal yet. Tulane’s Michael Pratt and Wake Forest’s Sam Hartman are expected to enter the portal after their bowl games, Jan. 2 and Dec. 23, respectively.
TUESDAY NIGHT UPDATE: Pratt announced via a Tulane collective’s podcast that he will return to the Green Wave in 2023.
Well, Hartman will either head to the NFL or enter the portal. He spent the latter half of the season indicating the NFL was his next destination, quipping everyone must be tired of him by now around Winston-Salem after five seasons and 47 games, soon to be 48. But as the name, image and likeness marketplace around quarterback transfers established itself this winter, Hartman may have realized a sixth season spent elsewhere would be worthwhile. Demon Deacons head coach Dave Clawson said as much.
“Whatever decision Sam makes, we support him,” Clawson said earlier this month. “I think right now his intention is to go to the NFL, but when the bowl game is over, if there is some incredible offer for him to go to another school and get life-changing money, how could we fault him for that. It’s a good problem to have. He’s going to have many good options.”
When will Notre Dame pull one of those names off the market? Anecdotally, any undergraduate transfer should take longer, simply given the University’s dragging process in admitting undergraduate transfers. As the youngest of the names mentioned, that would slow down Card’s hopes, as well as likely diminish them overall.
Hartman’s possible entry into the portal will take some time to develop, since official visits cannot occur until Jan. 4, and he should take many visits as he’ll have many suitors.
ON PYNE TO ARIZONA STATE
Irish fans insisting on dwelling on every LSU development this year had no actual reason to do so. Brian Kelly’s future will have no impact on Notre Dame moving forward. But it is, unfortunately, human nature.
Watching Pyne next season may be more instructive.
Under first-year head coach Kenny Dillingham, the offensive coordinator behind Nix’s excellent season at Oregon, Arizona State will be intriguing in 2023. A cratered program thanks to Herm Edwards’ various mistakes and misdeeds, the Sun Devils have already pulled in two notable running back transfers and an offensive tackle transfer. This will not be a USC-style rebuild, but Arizona State may find competence quicker than expected.
Pyne proving himself as a Power-Five quarterback could be spun as part of Tommy Rees’ development of him or as a sign Rees left potential unused this season. Pyne struggling in the Pac 12 would underscore the limitations the Irish dealt with this season.
Regardless, life in Tempe just got a bit more interesting.
— FarrellPortal (@farrellportal) December 18, 2022
Whoever joins Buchner in a nominal springtime quarterback competition — which would be the second nominal springtime quarterback competition of Buchner’s career, always going to be outdone by Jack Coan in 2021 — will have exactly one Notre Dame veteran to throw to. Former walk-on Matt Salerno announced he will return for a sixth season.
The Irish are so light on receivers, every body is needed, and Salerno will not expect ample playing time, making his roster presence an easy one to handle in 2023.
He should lead a room that, as of now, has three rising juniors and one rising sophomore, with four receivers expected to sign with Notre Dame on Wednesday. Nine total receivers is still fewer than ideal, particularly considering nearly half of them will have never taken a college-football snap.
INSIDE THE IRISH
— A quick look at South Carolina & Spencer Rattler before Notre Dame focuses on them
— Cane Berrong’s transfer portal entry Monday leaves Notre Dame with only two TEs in Gator Bowl
— K Spencer Shrader transfers to Notre Dame, returning to his homestate and a familiar venue
— Looking back on preseason expectations for Notre Dame’s best: Counting Down the Irish
— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) December 17, 2022
— South Carolina EDGE Gilber Edmond enters the NCAA Transfer Portal
— Former NC State star QB Devin Leary expected to transfer to Kentucky
— Roster management is a losing battle
— What we’re hearing in college football’s transfer portal market: Targets, trends and more
— College Football Playoff expansion and the bowls: What works? What are the issues?
— Pros and cons of a Pac-12 media rights deal almost exclusively with Amazon
Gotta think South Carolina's trickle of opt-outs has concluded.#NotreDame remains a 2.5-point favorite in the Gator Bowl on Dec. 30, though down to -2.0 at a handful of books.
— Douglas Farmer (@D_Farmer) December 19, 2022