Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 14, 2020

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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52 NOV. 14, 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY LOU SOMOGYI N othing on a college football roster is more inevitable than trans- fers, particularly at quarterback. One can play multiple run- ning backs, wide receivers, tight ends and offensive line- men … but most of the time there can be only one leader or voice at quarterback. More than ever, signal-call- ers believe the grass can be greener elsewhere, including the last two Heisman Trophy winners who also were the NFL's No. 1 overall picks: Oklahoma's Kyler Murray (Texas A&M) and LSU's Joe Burrow (Ohio State). B o s t o n C o l l e g e ' s P h i l Jurkovec, via Notre Dame (2018-19), is gunning for a similar path. Through the decades, a popular notion has developed among Fighting Irish faithful that quarterbacks who trans- fer from Notre Dame "never really do much" elsewhere. If they mean by going on to promi- nence in the NFL, that would be mostly correct. Since 1970, only two of the 26 quarterback transfers (see page 53) from Notre Dame, plus five graduate transfers, were drafted and were on an NFL roster for multiple years. Jurkovec, a former top-100 re- cruit, could become the third. Most of the transfers did end up starting elsewhere, and several had superb college careers. In chronologi- cal order, here were some of the more prominent ones, with the year they enrolled in parentheses: Roy Henry (1973) Suspended prior to the season in which starter Tom Clements had just guided a national title and Joe Mon- tana was enrolling as a freshman, Henry transferred to Louisiana (now Louisiana-Lafayette) and passed for 4,656 career yards. He played one season (1978) in the Canadian Football League. Randy Wright (1979) Wright transferred to Wisconsin after his freshman year and starred for the Badgers in 1982 and 1983. He became the highest draft pick — sixth round — among Notre Dame quarterback transfers over the past 50 years. He played five seasons (1984-88) with the Green Bay Pack- ers — starting 32 times, including all 16 contests in 1986. Ken Karcher (1981) The Pennsylvania native was trum- peted by recruiting maven Joe Ter- ranova as potentially "the next Joe Willie [Namath]." Late in his sophomore year, he started in place of an injured Blair Kiel versus Penn State and Air Force (both losses), and was replaced by walk-on Jim O'Hara. Karcher then transferred to Tulane and later became an NFL backup for John Elway at Denver in 1987-88. He had three starts as a replacement player during the 1987 play- ers' strike. Kent Graham (1987) Ranked as the No. 1 high school quarterback in many circles, Graham as a freshman rotated with Tony Rice after Terry Andrysiak was injured in the fourth game, and even started against Boston College. The Irish trailed 25-12 when Rice came in and rallied Notre Dame to a 32-25 victory. Graham backed up Rice during the 1988 national ti- tle run, but he transferred to Ohio State in 1989, where he backed up Greg Frey in 1990 and started ahead of Kirk Herbstreit in 1991, passing for 1,018 yards. Along with Wright, Gra- ham was the only other Notre Dame transfer quarterback drafted by the NFL (eighth round in 1992) this past half-century. In 10 seasons from 1992-2001, he suited up for seven different fran- chises, starting 38 times and passing for 7,801 career yards with 39 touch- downs and 33 interceptions. Jake Kelchner (1989) He enrolled the same year as the nation's No. 1 QB prospect, Rick Mirer. From the same high school as future 1994-97 Notre Dame starting quarterback Ron Powlus, Kelchner experienced academic problems and transferred to West Virginia. In 1993, he led the nation in passing efficiency while guiding the Moun- taineers to an 11-0 regular season. Like Notre Dame's Kevin McDougal that same year, however, he wasn't deemed an NFL prospect, but he did play in the Arena League. Zak Kustok (1997) Kustok entered his sophomore DEED OF TRANSFER Will Phil Jurkovec become the most prominent quarterback to leave Notre Dame the past 50 years? Jurkovec, Boston College's current starting quarterback, was ranked as the nation's No. 87 overall prospect by Rivals when he signed with the Irish. PHOTO COURTESY BOSTON COLLEGE ATHLETICS

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