Blue and Gold Illustrated

Preseason 2023

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

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32 PRESEASON 2023 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY TYLER HORKA S am Hartman knew what time it was. One second he was simu- lating snaps under center on the north end of Notre Dame's grass practice field. The next, whistles were blaring from the south side. The Notre Dame starting quarterback sprinted that way, badly beating all three of his position mates to a huddle assembled by head coach Marcus Freeman. Pre-practice one-on-ones. Hartman is the epicenter of this drill. It's no wonder why he wanted to get to the spot so quickly. The back-shoulder ball he made look so darn good at Wake Forest for five years was on full display in early August. He connected on throws of that nature with junior Jayden Thomas and sophomore Tobias Merriweather. His pinpoint pass to Thomas was the fi- nal toss of the one-on-one sessions. The touchdown sent the Notre Dame offense into a tizzy. A true tone-setter. Hartman himself is a tone-setter. That's especially true now that he's completely comfortable at Notre Dame. He knows where he needs to be and when he needs to be there. He's not wide-eyed and hesitant like he appeared to be at times in the spring, just a few weeks removed from total upheaval of his surroundings. Five years at Wake Forest was a very, very long time. "You almost know what tree is going to fall in the forest just because you've been there so many times," Hartman said. "That was a pretty good play [on words] because of Wake Forest. I didn't mean to do that. You just know how ev- erything is going to go." The daily grind at Notre Dame comes as easily to Hartman now as forest puns. He gets through his days in South Bend without pause. "I can do it with my head down or eyes closed at this point," Hartman said. Hartman's head is rarely down. His persona oozes conviction and self- assurance. That comes with being a 24-year-old college quarterback who has started 45 games and thrown 110 touchdown passes. It also comes with being accepted by his peers. As much as Hartman has accomplished in his sto- ried career, he didn't want to show up as the new guy and expect to be ingratiated seamlessly by the Irish. He wanted to earn trust and respect. Mission accomplished. "We had a thing this summer with [former strength] coach [Matt] Balis where they gave awards out based on the summer training, and Sam received one of these awards," Notre Dame quar- terbacks coach Gino Guidugli said. "You could just tell by the reaction of the crowd — we were all in the auditorium in the Gug, and they said Sam's name, and the reaction of his teammates told you that he has won the locker room, and he'll be a great leader for this team." How did he get there? Time and effort. Hartman spent the summer throw- ing countless back-shoulder fades to Thomas. It has obviously paid dividends from a production standpoint. The first week and a half of fall camp has been a powerful testimony. But it also worked wonders for Hartman's ascension to the status of full-blown leader. It's not just Thomas who warms up to Hartman through all the time spent bettering each other's crafts. Other teammates see the nurturing of a relationship, and they want it for themselves. Hartman has had time for everybody. "Sometimes we get caught up in just football, football, football," Hartman said. "But the relationships off the field make the ones on the field even more special. That's what I focused on this summer and feel like I did a decent job. "Everybody around us is feeling trust in each other. Good practice, bad prac- tice, we're going to keep rolling." The last thing Hartman wants to do is throw the ball to defensive backs. That's the stuff nightmares are made of for quarterbacks. But after one fall camp practice, Hartman played a game TONE-SETTER How transfer quarterback Sam Hartman won the Irish locker room

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