Blue and Gold Illustrated

March 2024

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

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BLUEGOLDONLINE.COM MARCH 2024 5 BY TYLER HORKA I t's been a while since Notre Dame's fourth-string quarterback was someone as good as freshman CJ Carr — the No. 6 QB recruit in the class of 2024 according to the On3 Industry Ranking. It's a role usually reserved for a walk-on or someone without a serious shot of ever starting in South Bend. Last season, for instance, Dylan De- vezin was the Irish's No. 4 QB. Head coach Marcus Freeman got his name wrong in a press conference on the first day of fall camp. He called him Devin. Nobody's confusing Carr for anyone else. He's the future. At other places, he could even be the present. He's supposed to be the guy. Freeman sin- gled him out during his early national signing day press conference. "I think he's the leader of this class," Freeman said on Dec. 20. A month and a half later, in his first official press conference setting as an Irish QB, Carr was questioned about leading Notre Dame to a national cham- pionship. Devezin wasn't hit with that line of questioning last fall. Duh. Nei- ther was Ron Powlus III in 2021 or 2022 before his retirement from football. Carr has visions of playing long be- yond his time in college. That's the d i f fe re n ce b e twe e n No t re Da m e 's quarterbacks then and Notre Dame's quarterbacks now. Carr could realistically be a national championship-winning quarterback like his old workout buddy J.J. McCar- thy at Michigan. That was never in the cards for Powlus. "It was cool to see him hoist that trophy up," Carr said. "You kind of put yourself in his shoes and try to visualize that for yourself. The dream is to bring that to Notre Dame." The dream is attainable. With the fourth-string QB. It's conceivable for the first, second and third guys in line to get the job done, too. Duke transfer Riley Leonard is a household name in college football. A formidable dual threat. A better pro prospect than Sam Hartman, Tyler Bu- chner, Drew Pyne, Jack Coan, Ian Book or Brandon Wimbush. Basically, Notre Dame's best starting quarterback NFL Draft hopeful since DeShone Kizer in the spring of 2017. "That's a high-level dude," five-star freshman wide receiver Cam Williams said of Leonard. He's teaming up with a veteran of- fensive coordinator in Mike Denbrock and is backed by what was one of the best defenses in the sport in 2023. He's backed up by a quarterback in Steve Angeli who completed 15 of 19 pass at- tempts for 232 yards with 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions in his first career start, a 40-8 victory over a ranked Or- egon State team in the Sun Bowl. T h e n t h e re 's so p h o m o re Ke n ny Minchey, the No. 14 quarterback re- cruit in the class of 2023. Carr says he's the best basketball player among Notre Dame's quarterbacks even though Leonard was a certified baller in high school. Go check his dunk highlights for proof. If Minchey is better than Leon- ard, then Minchey must be darn good. This group is athletic. Talented. Ver- satile. Deep. Promising. "It's great," Carr said. "You learn a lot of different styles of offense with dif- ferent players. So, I'll understand how Riley can attack a defense versus Steve versus Kenny versus me. It's a blessing." We still don't know much about what Angeli and Minchey can do on Satur- days. Same goes for Carr, for that mat- ter. But it sure feels like they aren't go- ing to transfer to two other Power Five programs and end up off those respec- tive rosters entirely a year later. Buchner went to Alabama. He's back at Notre Dame to play lacrosse. Pyne went to Arizona State. He's back at Notre Dame to take classes. If Angeli and/or Minchey went elsewhere, they probably have the talent and tools to make their moves stick. To make the decisions to leave worth their while for the football futures. For the time being, though, they're here. They're half of what makes Notre Dame's current contingent of scholarship quarterbacks one of the best the Irish have had in quite a while. "We're in a great quarterback room," Carr said. "We have four guys in there who love to play football." "Everybody always thinks that quar- terbacks are just battling all year, but at the end of the day you're with them so much that you become best friends," Leonard added. "If I have a question about anything on campus, those are the guys I'm going to for answers. They've been unreal. "We're all super competitive, so whenever it's time to compete, we com- pete. But whenever it's time to not com- pete and go hang out and be normal col- lege guys, we can do that too. It's been great." ✦ GOLDEN GAMUT TYLER HORKA Tyler Horka has been a writer for Blue & Gold Illustrated since July 2021. He can be reached at Notre Dame freshman CJ Carr was the No. 6 quarterback recruit in the class of 2024 according to the On3 Industry Ranking. PHOTO BY KYLE KELLY Notre Dame Is In Promising Position At Quarterback

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