FRISCO, TEXAS — Notre Dame quarterback commit Drew Pyne attempted seven passes in three and a half hours at the Elite 11 Finals.
Sunday's third session, held inside the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas, consisted of more standing around than anything for the 20 rising senior quarterbacks competing. They each received roughly 10 plays in the red zone for 7-on-7 work. Local high school athletes were available on offense and defense.
Pyne finished 4-of-7 and threw a 20-yard touchdown in the back of the end zone on his first play. Two of his incompletions were drops and another was caught out of bounds in the end zone. The 6-foot-1, 196-pounder held onto the ball on one play, resulting in a sack.
Known as one of the best high school quarterback competitions, the Elite 11 Finals is expected to intensify over the next few days. The quarterbacks will be joined Monday by dozens of top 2020 athletes for The Opening Finals — including Irish commits Michael Mayer and Chris Tyree. Their sessions will comprise of intense drill work and 7-on-7 action.
The first three sessions offered a tuneup for Pyne and a snapshot of his skillset. The New Canaan (Conn.) product performed well in Saturday night’s pro day session, showing poise and accuracy. In the opening morning session, Pyne flashed his quick feet in drills that focused on pocket movement and throwing while on the run.
Below are some first impressions of Pyne before he showcases his abilities further over the next few days.
Strengths: Pyne’s consistent accuracy, quick feet and overall footwork are among his best attributes. Short and intermediate routes are completed with ease by Pyne, including when he escapes the pocket or throws on the run. His mechanics look smooth, as do his feet when he drops back for a pass. Recruiting analysts tend to knock Pyne’s athleticism, but he moves in and out of the pocket well and with the proper suddenness. His footwork and quick-twitch ability are underrated.
Weaknesses: Arm strength, size and athleticism are the biggest concerns with Pyne. No route within 15 yards seems like a challenge for Pyne — even when he’s on the move. Pyne has struggled to connect on throws of 20 yards and beyond, though. His size will not be challenged in no-contact 7-on-7 work. But Pyne’s physical limitations could hinder his ceiling and risk his durability at the college level. He bulked up 19 pounds in the spring but seemingly still needs to add more strength.
Final thoughts: The last Notre Dame quarterback to compete in the Elite 11 Finals was Brandon Wimbush in 2014. The former Irish starter, now a graduate transfer at UCF, was named in the top 11. Pyne has a chance to emulate Wimbush’s success in this competition. Though he's one of the least physically imposing quarterbacks participating, Pyne's crisp mechanics and accuracy should make him a threat. He will likely finish on the bubble for top 11 status.
Because of the small sample size so far, a couple of Pyne’s other strengths have not yet been put on display. Those close to Pyne compare his confidence to that of Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield. Pyne’s quick decision making seems to stem from his confidence, footwork and accuracy. These attributes will need to be at a premium in the upcoming 7-on-7 sessions.
Another opinion: Barton Simmons, 247Sports’ director of scouting, ranked Pyne No. 10 among quarterbacks after Saturday’s two sessions. Pyne missed Simmons’ top 11 cut from Sunday.
“Pyne doesn’t look like the most athletic prospect in the drill work that is supposed to tell that story, but he shows body quickness and suddenness in the pocket that is really encouraging,” Simmons wrote. “He also had one of the better pro day workouts in terms of consistency and control.
“He missed badly on a deeper breaking route revealing that he can struggle with bigger throws but on his 19 other passes Saturday evening, Pyne looked totally comfortable and on point.”
Update: The Elite 11 ranked Pyne as the No. 10 quarterback after day two.