After spending time with Chris Tyree, Drew Pyne understood why Notre Dame covets the running back perhaps more than anyone in its 2020 football recruiting class.
Pyne, ND’s 2020 quarterback commit, met Tyree for the first time Sunday in Baltimore. They participated in Under Armour’s final All-America camp this spring. Tyree tweaked his hamstring prior to the camp, limiting him from flashing his full abilities.
However, that didn’t stop Pyne from recognizing the best aspect to Tyree’s game.
“His half speed would beat pretty much anyone else’s full speed,” Pyne said. “That guy is an absolute cat. He’s fast as lightning. I really, really hope he comes to Notre Dame. I would love to be with him.”
Verbally pledging to the Irish in April of 2018, Pyne became ND’s first commit for 2020. He then entered recruiting mode and forged a relationship with Tyree.
Offensive coordinator Chip Long made it clear how much the Irish wanted to invest in Tyree. The 5-foot-9, 171-pounder would bring much-needed speed to ND’s backfield. He’s a track star for Chester (Va.) Thomas Dale High and clocked a 4.38 40-yard dash this spring.
Tyree’s vision, shiftiness and all-purpose ability makes him a fringe five-star player. He’s the No. 1 all-purpose back on 247Sports and Rivals. The recruiting sites rank him No. 49 and No. 60 overall, respectively.
“It’s pretty much that I’m the missing piece in their offense,” Tyree told the Tribune in February about Long’s message to him. “We talked about how much they needed that home run hitter and a guy with a lot of speed in that backfield.”
Tyree is embarking on a similar recruiting path as Pyne. His top three includes Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Alabama. Pyne took visits to Oklahoma and Alabama and considered the former as a top school.
“We talked about schools a little bit, because we ended up with the same ideas for both of us,” Pyne said. “I gave him my pitch, and I gave him a little Notre Dame swag as well.”
An April 12-14 official visit for Oklahoma’s spring game left Tyree thinking the Sooners. Tyree’s head football coach, Kevin Tucker, encouraged him to not make an emotional decision following visits.
The evaluation period added another element to Tyree’s recruiting whirlwind. He intended to formally weigh his options last Wednesday with his parents and Tucker. Coaches visiting his school and last weekend’s camp delayed that meeting.
Irish running backs coach Lance Taylor trekked to Thomas Dale on April 16 and is expected to come again this week. His message helped convince Tyree to follow through with his June 21-23 official visit to South Bend.
Now that the dust has settled, Tyree could still land with the Irish. Pyne made an impression on him over the weekend as well. He even gifted Tyree an Irish sleeve and a pair of shoes that were blue, gold and green.
“He’s really not all caught up in everything that’s gone on,” Pyne said. “He’s a guy who won’t get a big head at all. He’s just thankful for every opportunity he has. He would be a perfect fit for Notre Dame. Very humble, hardworking and a super nice guy.”
Pyne as a recruiter
Pyne can name all of ND’s top targets. When offensive recruits add Irish offers, Pyne tends to reach out to them. He mentioned offensive linemen Tosh Baker and Jimmy Christ, running backs Tyree and Tirek Murphy and receivers Michael Redding III and AJ Henning as players he’s recruiting.
“I’m trying my best with these guys, and it’s been a lot of fun,” Pyne said. “At the end of the day, some of these guys will be my best friends for the rest of my life.”
Offensive lineman Landon Tengwall marks one of ND’s top 2021 targets. He also attended the Under Armour camp. He’s a former teammate of Irish receiver signee Cam Hart at Olney (Md.) Good Counsel.
247Sports slates Tengwall as a four-star recruit, ranking him as its No. 5 offensive tackle and No. 28 overall player. He took a March 23 visit to Notre Dame.
“He was actually wearing Notre Dame gloves,” Pyne said. “He actually came up to me and was like, ‘What’s up, Notre Dame?’ I was like, ‘Hey, what’s up my man? Nice gloves.’ We talked afterwards and will catch up in the near future.”
The New York Giants selected former Duke quarterback Daniel Jones with the sixth overall pick in the NFL Draft. Jones ran routes for Pyne a month before Thursday’s first round.
The two train under QB Country’s David Morris, who works with top quarterbacks across the nation. Pyne has been with Morris since the eighth grade.
“I’m just trying my best to work on all the small things,” Pyne said. “Not just zone in on one thing.”
Notre Dame expects to host Pyne for one or two visits this summer. He earned an invite to the Elite 11 Finals in Dallas, which begins June 30. Pyne also garnered an invite to play in January's Under Armour All-America Game. He plans to enroll early.
Pyne finished his junior season with New Canaan (Conn.) High at 6-1, 177 pounds. He’s up to 196 pounds just a few months later. He hopes to play around that weight as a senior.
“As a quarterback, you don’t want to be lifting too much,” Pyne said. “But I’m lifting a lot heavier than I ever have before upper-body and lower-body. I’m just trying to get stronger and faster. I’m running more to try to maintain the speed.”
Chip on his shoulder
247Sports demoted Pyne to three-star status following his junior season. He’s now 247Sports’ No. 13 pro-style quarterback and No. 433 overall player. Pyne ranked as the site’s No. 8 pro-style quarterback and No. 229 overall player in late August.
At the time of 247Sports’ February rankings, the Irish had five commits in their 2020 class. All five of them dropped significantly in the updated rankings.
Pyne’s decline came as the biggest surprise. He led the Rams to the CIAC (Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference) Class LL championship game and downed No. 1 seed Shelton in the first round. Rivals considers Pyne as a four-star recruit, ranking him as its No. 5 pro-style quarterback and No. 72 overall player.
“I have been working my butt off in the past couple months,” Pyne said. “Since my freshman year, I’ve gained 50 pounds. I’ve worked very hard, gained a lot of weight and gotten a lot stronger.”