Notre Dame QB target Phil Jurkovec eying bigger picture

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

One conversation with Alabama head coach Nick Saban and assistant coach Mario Cristobal produced a scholarship offer for Phil Jurkovec.

The 6-foot-5, 190-pound quarterback recruit is only a sophomore, but the Crimson Tide joined a recruiting derby Tuesday that is already well underway.

Following his first talk with Alabama, Jurkovec said he hopes to make a visit in the future. He already made trips to Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Ohio State in less than a month’s span.

An onslaught of offers is likely to continue for Jurkovec, and he’s not ready to close any doors.

“As of right now, I’m open to all offers,” Jurkovec said. “I haven’t narrowed it down at all. Ideally, I want to make a decision earlier than most just because being a quarterback you’re able to pick where you want to go early and develop the class from there.”

A prolific sophomore season at Gibsonia (Pa.) Pine-Richland caught the attention of many college coaches. Jurkovec completed 176 of 264 passes (67 percent) for 2,560 yards and 20 touchdowns with only four interceptions and rushed for 1,250 yards and 11 TDs.

Pittsburgh, Penn State, Wisconsin and Michigan State were among the first to offer Jurkovec in October. Notre Dame joined the race early in November. Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mike Sanford watched Jurkovec play the night before the Irish played at Pittsburgh and then extended an offer.

Sanford’s presence has helped Notre Dame become a constant in Jurkovec’s recruitment. He’s seen Jurkovec play both on the football field and on the basketball court, and the two speak regularly. Jurkovec is the only 2018 quarterback with a Notre Dame scholarship offer.

“It was really cool to see him there on the sidelines,” Jurkovec said. “To know you’re playing in front of a Notre Dame coach, it’s something.”

Jurkovec showed his high interest in the Irish by returning to South Bend for Notre Dame’s junior day earlier this month. He also attended Notre Dame’s victory over USC last season.

“I really enjoyed it,” Jurkovec said of his recent ND visit. “I was able to see all the facilities, talk with some of the players, meet all the coaches and talk with them and see practice too.”

The return trip to Notre Dame deepened his knowledge of the Irish program.

“I definitely got a better understanding of the school now after being up there on a regular day for a regular practice,” Jurkovec said. “With the coaches, I was able to see them coach. I got to see everything about the campus and all that it has to offer while I was up there.”

The same day Jurkovec was on campus, Notre Dame landed a verbal commitment from 2017 quarterback Avery Davis. He said that won’t affect his recruitment with the Irish.

“I know he’s a really good player, but that doesn’t really change my opinion,” Jurkovec said.

Instead, Jurkovec kept his focus on what Notre Dame could do for him. Head coach Brian Kelly jumped in with his recruiting pitch.

“He was telling me all about what Notre Dame has to offer,” Jurkovec said. “Obviously the football part and how he can develop quarterbacks and players, but also outside of football, that they can develop you as a person and in life you’re going to be successful.”

As a mobile quarterback, Jurkovec said he sees a fit in the Irish offense. Certainly if Notre Dame couldn’t figure out how to use the top dual-threat quarterback in the 2018 class according to 247Sports, the Irish wouldn’t be recruiting him.

“It’s similar to what we run in high school,” Jurkovec said. “I really like what they do on offense. They’re definitely an explosive offensive team.”

Jurkovec has plenty of decisions ahead of him that he doesn’t have answers for yet. But he does know that when it comes to his college choice, he’d be wise to not base it heavily on specifics such as coaches and offensive scheme.

He wants to find a place that he’ll be happy. And he has plenty of time left to research it.

“There’s many aspects to it, but you just have to love the school and imagine yourself being there for four or five years,” Jurkovec said. “The coaches might change, but if you really love the school then that’s where you want to go.”


Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Sophomore quarterback Phil Jurkovec, a four-star recruit, gave his verbal commitment to Notre Dame on Monday. (Photo courtesy of Trib Total Media/Steph Chambers)