Notre Dame commits finding success in their seasons

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

The start of Notre Dame’s season has featured plenty of gloom and doom. But it’s not all bad news for the future Irish.

Many of Notre Dame’s 24 committed recruits in the 2017 and 2018 class have had successful starts to their own seasons. In fact, none of the 21 teams featuring Irish commits have lost as many games (3) as the current Irish.

Each week on, we recap the performances of each Notre Dame commit in action. But with the season in full swing for each pledge, let’s take a look at some of the contributions being made by key Irish commits.

Note: Complete stats for many of Notre Dame’s top defensive commits, such as defensive linemen Donovan Jeter and Darnell Ewell and linebackers David Adams and Pete Werner, have not yet been made available.

• 2018 QB Phil Jurkovec, 6-5, 202; Gibsonia (Pa.) Pine-Richland: Jurkovec has lived up to the hype as one of the top 2018 quarterback recruits in the country. He’s followed up his prolific sophomore season with monster numbers to start his junior campaign. In only five games, Jurkovec has completed 79 of his 131 passes (60 percent) for 1,321 yards and 10 touchdowns with only two interceptions. He’s added 370 yards rushing and six touchdowns on 60 carries.

The only misstep of the season for the Rams (4-1) came in the season opener against Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward when Jurkovec’s three touchdown passes and one touchdown run weren’t enough to beat the Eagles on ESPN.

Jurkovec’s least-productive game of the season came last Friday when he completed just 6 of his 15 passes for 96 yards and one touchdown. But he still managed to score the game-winning touchdown to beat Bethel Park on a three-yard run in the fourth quarter.

• 2017 WR Jordan Pouncey, 6-2, 186; Winter Park (Fla.) High: An experiment to get the ball in Pouncey’s hands has turned into a prominent feature of Winter Park’s offense. Rather than trying to throw the ball his way, the Wildcats (3-2) decided to simply hand it off to him. It couldn’t have worked much better.

In his first game taking carries, Pouncey rushed six times for 158 yards and three touchdowns. Three games later, Pouncey has racked up 434 rushing yards and five touchdowns. The new role has limited his receiving opportunities (seven catches for 120 yards), but he’s found more ways to impact the game.

Pouncey has also returned a kickoff for a touchdown and recorded 15 tackles and a defensive back.

• 2018 LB Bo Bauer, 6-3; 215; Erie (Pa.) Cathedral Prep: Bauer has been a menace for opposing offenses in the first five games of his junior season. He’s tallied 44 tackles, 10.5 tackles for a loss, 5.5 sacks and one fumble return for a touchdown for the undefeated Ramblers.

In consecutive weeks, Bauer recorded three sacks against McDowell and 15 tackles against Cleveland Benedictine. Cathedral Prep has also used Bauer as a sledgehammer in the backfield as a part-time running back. He’s rushed 19 times for 121 yards and three touchdowns.

• 2017 OL Robert Hainsey, Josh Lugg and Dillan Gibbons: The key to a high-scoring offense? Having a future Notre Dame offensive lineman seems to help the cause. The three units featuring Hainsey, Lugg and Gibbons have combined for 73 touchdowns in 15 games.

Hainsey and Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy have disposed all competition in the quest for a national championship. MaxPreps currently ranks IMG as the No. 2 team in the country behind Las Vegas Bishop Gorman. The Ascenders (5-0) have thrown for 1,166 yards and rushed for 862 more behind Hainsey’s offensive line.

Lugg and Wexford (Pa.) North Allegheny (3-2) have rebounded with a pair of 49-point games after falling to Pittsburgh Central Catholic, featuring Irish commits David Adams and Kurt Hinish. The run-first offense has racked up 1,171 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns in five games.

Gibbons and the Clearwater (Fla.) Central Catholic offense has scored less than 35 points only once this season, and it cost them a win against Tampa Catholic last week. The Marauders (4-1) have scored 25 touchdowns on offense with a balanced attack (914 passing yards, 851 rushing yards).

• 2017 QB Avery Davis, 5-11, 192; Cedar Hill (Texas) High: Davis’ senior season hasn’t gone as planned so far. In the first game of the year, Davis threw two interceptions in a 44-14 loss to Bishop Gorman on ESPN2. During the game, Davis sprained his right ankle, which sidelined him for the next three weeks.

Davis returned from the injury last Friday to take on rival DeSoto. His 272 passing yards and two touchdowns weren’t enough to outduel TCU quarterback commit Shawn Robinson in a 33-18 game.

In his two games, Davis has completed 41 of his 69 passes (59 percent) for 443 yards and three touchdowns. He’s added 44 yards on the ground.

• 2017 TE Brock Wright, 6-5, 249; Cypress (Texas) Cy-Fair: Wright finishes with more pancake blocks than catches on most weeks, but the hulking tight end was able to get loose for a 79-yard touchdown reception last week. Because Cy-Fair (2-2) features a run-heavy offense, Wright’s receiving opportunities are limited. He’s caught eight of the team’s 52 completions through four games.

But Wright has continued to excel as a run blocker. He’s helped clear the way for 774 rushing yards on 135 carries.


Twitter: @TJamesNDI

2018 quarterback commit Phil Jurkovec attended Notre Dame's 36-28 loss to Michigan State on Sept. 17, 2016. (Tribune photo/Jared Hamsher)