Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 18, 2023

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

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4 NOV. 18, 2023 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED W i t h t wo re g u l a r - s e a s o n games and a bowl date still remaining in 2023, peeking ahead to 2024 might seem a little premature. But given the impact the transfer portal is having on roster construc- tion, and Notre Dame's quarterback situation heading into next season, it's not overly early to start looking at what the future might hold. In two of the last three seasons — Jack Coan in 2021 and Sam Hartman in 2023 — the Fighting Irish coaches found their starting quarterback in the transfer portal. With limited to no returning ex- perience in the Notre Dame quar- terbacks room either of those years, Coan and Hartman were brought in to win right away and provide a vet- eran example for the younger guys to sponge off of and learn from to help them later. The plan held together in both sit- uations, especially with Hartman, a sixth-year player who's helping to guide sophomore Steve Angeli and freshman Kenny Minchey. "I think the most important thing the younger guys have benefited from with [Hartman] is the preparation, how they prepare throughout the week, outside of the four hours we get with them a day," Irish head coach Marcus Freeman ex- plained. "It's the preparation in terms of watching film, a pre-practice routine, a post-practice routine, that's the biggest addition they've received. "And, they all do it. They're always watching film together. They're always going through the routine together. So that, to me, has been the biggest benefit." Finding and starting a portal quar- terback is not an unusual practice. Look around the country and many of the top college programs feature a transfer signal-caller. Heisman hopeful Michael Penix Jr. at Washington transferred from Indiana. USC's Caleb Williams transferred from Oklahoma. Bo Nix at Oregon transferred from Auburn, just to name a select few. But the annual exodus also creates a turbulent situation in locker rooms and coaching offices while quarterbacks stuff the portal at a disproportionate rate compared to the other position groups. Following the 2022 season, more than 150 quarterbacks entered the por- tal, including two — junior Drew Pyne and sophomore Tyler Buchner — from Notre Dame. And that overall number will continue to grow. So, that brings us back to 2024. Given the makeup of Notre Dame's quarterback roster next year when Hartman is out the door, will the Notre Dame coaches again find themselves portal shopping for their starting quar- terback in 2024? Angeli will try to pin down the QB1 role next season. He appeared in five of Notre Dame's first nine games this sea- son and did a solid job, completing 16 of 21 passes for 236 yards with 3 touch- downs and no interceptions in mop-up duty. Also expect Minchey to challenge for starting duties. Minchey has appeared in two games this season and completed both of his pass attempts for 12 yards. Incoming four-star freshman CJ Carr will also try to make his case for starting duties. But that's all we'll get in terms of experience, meaning the Irish coaches will again face the choice next year of rolling with an inexperienced quarterback already on the roster, or bringing in a graduate transfer again for the third time in four seasons. And that's the slippery slope. Coaches obviously want to de- velop the quarterbacks they re- cruited. But they're also reluctant to give an inexperienced signal-caller meaningful reps for fear of a rookie mistake in a big game. Bringing in a graduated veteran helps ease those concerns, but it stunts the growth of the younger guys and often drives them out the door. Time will tell which direction the Irish coaches go. "I think all options right now are in consideration," Freeman con- ceded. "But I feel really good about the future of our program at the quar- terback position with the guys coming in, with the guys we have here." But will those "guys" even stick around if another veteran transfer is brought in to start and run the Irish of- fense again? This year's NCAA portal window runs from Dec. 4-Jan. 2. The spring window is open from April 16-30. The preference for the Notre Dame coaches is to develop the quarterbacks they recruited, find a roster rhythm at the position, and then keep them out of the transfer portal. But with feelings easily hurt at this position and Irish quarterbacks trans- ferring away at an alarming rate, it's easy to forecast that Notre Dame will have another single-season graduate transfer quarterback in 2024, and po- tentially in many more years to follow when the guys behind the one-year wonder hit the portal. ✦ Will sophomore Steve Angeli, who appeared in five of Notre Dame's first nine games this season, be the starting quarter- back next year or will the Irish turn again to the transfer portal? PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER How Will Notre Dame Find Its 2024 Starting QB? UPON FURTHER REVIEW TODD D. BURLAGE Todd D. Burlage has been a writer for Blue & Gold Illustrated since July 2005. He can be reached at

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