Ron Powlus III should feel right at home at his next football stop.
The Penn quarterback and Notre Dame legacy signed to the Irish 2021 recruiting class on Wednesday.
Powlus' father, Ron II, is a former Notre Dame (1994-97) and NFL quarterback and currently the associate athletics director and sport administrator for Irish football. Ron III spent plenty of his childhood attending Notre Dame football games.
“Notre Dame has the best combination of academics and athletics in the country,” Powlus said in a release issued by Penn Wednesday morning. “I recognized the opportunity I was presented with and knew it was the right choice for me.
“This opportunity is a blessing and I'm honored to be a part of Notre Dame.”
The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Powlus was the lone uncommitted recruit the Irish have signed so far. They signed 23 of their 24 verbal commits in the class on Wednesday. The one exception, running back pledge Logan Diggs, still could sign with Notre Dame. But he is considering LSU after receiving a scholarship offer from the Tigers on Dec. 9.
Tom Lemming, a recruiting analyst for CBS Sports Network, sees plenty of potential in Powlus.
“He has a good arm, he’s got good height and he’s a kid who could develop," Lemming said. "He could be a surprise down the line, I do believe that. He’s a talented quarterback. Sure, he’s not up there with the bigger-named guys. But he has the size and the arm. It all comes down to the development really with him. He will go as far as (offensive coordinator) Tommy Rees trains him.”
Still, the Irish signing Powlus on scholarship may have come as a surprise. He never reported a Notre Dame scholarship offer. He held an offer from just one Power Five program: Kentucky. Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Buffalo and Yale also offered Powlus.
Tyler Buchner, a four-star quarterback from La Mesa (Calif.) Helix, had been committed since March 2019 before signing with the Irish on Wednesday. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said they considered Powlus an easy take this cycle.
"We felt like we needed two quarterbacks," Kelly said. "We were transparent with all of our quarterbacks, and they knew that we were taking two quarterbacks. So that wasn’t a mystery. We were pretty upfront with that. Matter of fact, we were very clear with the fact that we were taking a second quarterback."
Sophomore Brendon Clark and freshman Drew Pyne will be the only scholarship quarterbacks returning to the Irish next season. Losing Phil Jurkovec to Boston College via transfer following 2019 and graduate senior Ian Book after this season made Notre Dame light at the position.
"We could not go into next season with three scholarship quarterbacks. That is just irresponsible," Irish recruiting coordinator Brian Polian said. "To set your roster up the right way, you’ve got to have at least four scholarship guys. We thought that Ronnie would be an ideal second quarterback in this class.
"He has been snake bitten a little bit. His junior year, he suffered an injury. Not his fault. And then his senior year, they are going in and out of COVID. It was just a crazy year.
"But we feel very confident in who we are getting in a guy and as a player. We are excited about him.”
247Sports pegged Powlus as a two-star recruit, ranking him as its No. 161 pro-style quarterback and No. 3,858 overall player in the 2021 recruiting class. Rivals values Powlus as a three-star recruit.
"He will be in a different system and a different offense," Kelly said. "We think he’ll be well-suited in the offense that we are going to be running. It’s projecting him a little bit for us. We think he’s a great fit for our offense.”
Powlus was named first-team All-State IFCA Class 6-A, as well as earning first-team All-Northern Indiana Conference honors. Powlus connected on 104-of-184 passes for 1,435 yards with 12 touchdowns and five interceptions in 2020.
“It has been an honor to play for Coach Cory (Yeoman) and the Penn Kingsmen,” Powlus said. “The tradition and prestige of this program, along with the challenging and competitive schedule every year has helped to prepare me to continue my football career.”
Kelly said he expects Notre Dame to sign two more running backs this class and a defensive back. Michigan State commit Audric Estime, Byron Cardwell and Diggs are the running backs being pursued by the Irish. Four-star cornerback Ceyair Wright also is hearing from Notre Dame.