FRISCO, Texas — Notre Dame’s three commits participating in The Opening Finals — quarterback Drew Pyne, tight end Michael Mayer and running back Chris Tyree — left town decorated with accolades.
Pyne was named to the Elite 11, an honor that can be earned by only the nation’s best rising senior quarterbacks. He jockeyed for top 11 status with 19 other quarterbacks competing in the Ford Center at The Star over the last five days.
Mayer earned 7-on-7 MVP honors among skill position players. He caught three touchdowns Tuesday — two from Pyne. Tyree defended his title for the “fastest man” competition, besting Ohio State wide receiver commit Julian Fleming in the 40-yard dash.
All three Irish pledges played major roles in capturing a 7-on-7 title for Team Savage. Mayer caught four passes on the opening drive of Savage’s 34-6 championship victory over Team Drip. Trailing 18-0 in the semifinal to Team Guap, Pyne's two touchdown passes sparked a 21-18 comeback win.
Pyne, Tyree and Mayer stood out among the 129 recruits. 247Sports director of recruiting Steve Wiltfong breaks down their performances below.
• QB Drew Pyne, 6-1, 196; New Canaan (Conn.) High: Pyne will become the first Elite 11 quarterback to sign with the Irish since Brandon Wimbush in 2015.
The Elite 11 Finals ascended Pyne from No. 10 in its quarterback rankings after day two to No. 5 overall through day four. He completed 28-of-38 passes and tallied five touchdowns with two interceptions in Tuesday’s 7-on-7 action. With four quarterbacks rotating for Savage, Pyne did not see the field in Wednesday’s title game.
“He’s not going to blow you away with any of his physical features from a size standpoint or with his arm talent,” Wiltfong said. “But when it was time to play 7-on-7, he was efficient, saw the field well, made good decisions with it and that offense was always moving forward with him.”
The Opening Finals presents an opportunity for athletes to elevate in the recruiting rankings. 247Sports demoted Pyne to three-star status this offseason, ranking him as its No. 13 pro-style quarterback and No. 460 overall player in the 2020 recruiting class.
247Sports likely won’t grant Pyne a fourth star in the updated rankings that will be released soon, Wiltfong said. A three-star rating means 247Sports projects a recruit as a multi-year starter at a Power Five program.
“When you look at Notre Dame’s class and you see Jordan Johnson, Chris Tyree and Michael Mayer,” Wiltfong said, “that’s the best running back, receiver and tight end trio that Brian Kelly could sign. Drew Pyne has got to be a happy guy, being able to distribute it to guys like that down the road.”
• TE Michael Mayer, 6-5, 236; Park Hills (Ky.) Covington Catholic: The debate over this cycle’s best tight end became more difficult after Mayer’s outing. Mayer dominated the first couple days, particularly in one-on-one and 7-on-7 action.
Tight ends Theo Johnson, Darnell Washington and Arik Gilbert also impressed. Wiltfong said Gilbert shined the most, though Mayer might still be Notre Dame’s best tight end commit since 2009.
“I think he looks like the best one since Tyler Eifert as far as the success I envision him having on the field,” Wiltfong said.
247Sports named Mayer as Monday’s top pass-catcher. He caught passes in traffic that would normally be 50-50 balls and flashed prowess in route running, creating separation and finding the soft spots in the defense.
“He did it in a variety of ways,” Wiltfong said. “Where I thought he really shined was down the field with his ability down the seam to be a big target and have a big catch radius.”
• RB Chris Tyree, 5-10, 185; Chester (Va.) Thomas Dale: Running backs were limited to receiving duties in 7-on-7 action. Tyree thrived in the role, leading the event with 20 receptions.
Tyree showcased his shiftiness and burst, making defenders miss in open space throughout the week. Even getting a hand on Tyree was a challenge, particularly in one-on-one work.
“Notre Dame needs more guys on offense that can score on one touch,” Wiltfong said. “Chris Tyree definitely had that kind of explosiveness. Notre Dame is going to be able to utilize him in a lot of ways to create mismatches in the backfield, in the slot and maybe even all the way out at wideout. They could jet sweep him. He obviously has a lot of juice. He can go.”
Like Pyne, Tyree received a demotion from 247Sports this offseason to four-star status. He’s now the site’s No. 1 all-purpose back and No. 53 overall player.
“I think it would take a senior year with a lot more production for us to consider a fifth star,” said Wiltfong of Tyree, who as a junior ran for 1,446 yards and 11 touchdowns on 177 carries with 23 receptions for 302 yards and a touchdown. “He is certainly still one of the more electric guys in the country."
Chris Tyree (@chris_tyree4) wins the fastest man competition @TheOpening Finals for a second straight year. The #NotreDame RB commit beats Ohio State WR commit Julian Fleming by a decent margin. pic.twitter.com/7DeNwVeADS— Carter Karels (@CarterKarels) July 2, 2019
Craziest part about Chris Tyree (@chris_tyree4) running a 4.37 40-yard dash @TheOpening Finals? The #NotreDame RB commit has barely run since hurting his hamstring in the spring. Breaking 4.3 is possible, he tells me: "My start was a little rusty. I could get there."— Carter Karels (@CarterKarels) July 2, 2019
Mitchell Melton picks Ohio State: Notre Dame’s top defensive end target verbally committed Wednesday to the Buckeyes.
The news does not hurt the Irish much. Notre Dame already has four defensive linemen pledged to its 2020 recruiting class: Alexander Ehrensberger, Aidan Keanaaina, Rylie Mills and Jordan Botelho. The Irish might not take another defensive lineman with the limited space remaining this cycle.
Melton, a product of Olney (Md.) Good Counsel, took a June 7-9 official visit to South Bend. Notre Dame projected the 6-foot-4, 230-pounder at its drop defensive end position and offered him on Jan. 28. Melton trekked to Ohio State for a June 14-16 official visit.