Recruiting Reset: Notre Dame's streamlined QB recruiting process pays dividends

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Two years ago, Notre Dame entered October without knowing if a quarterback would be included in its 2015 recruiting class.

That quarterback question was soon answered when Brandon Wimbush flipped his commitment from Penn State to Notre Dame later that month. An uneasy situation was solved with less than four months until signing day.

The pace at which the Irish have recruited quarterbacks has drastically changed since then. When Mike Sanford joined Notre Dame’s staff as quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator in March 2015, he streamlined the recruiting process at the positon.

The result? Notre Dame already has quarterback commitments in the 2017 and 2018 classes and has already started weighing options in the 2019 class.

With Avery Davis, a three-star recruit, set to sign with the Irish in February and Phil Jurkovec, a four-star recruit, firmly committed in the 2018 class, Notre Dame’s quarterback recruiting has found a mixture of success and stability.

Commitment

• Avery Davis, 5-11, 192; Cedar Hill (Texas) High: Notre Dame didn’t need to cast a wide net to find a quarterback in the 2017 class. Davis became the second of three Irish targets when he received an offer last October.

The Texas native was sold on Notre Dame after making trips in November for a game and March for a junior day event. He committed during the March visit.

Because Davis didn’t become a full-time starter until his junior season, many of the in-state programs found quarterback options before Davis emerged as an FBS-level recruit. That left the door open for Sanford and the Irish to pull a recruit out of a Texas high school that also uses the Longhorns as its mascot.

Davis, who reported offers from Auburn, Houston, Utah and others, threw for 1,966 yards and 22 touchdowns and ran for 934 yards and 13 scores as a junior. In five games in his senior season, Davis has completed 87 of his 129 passes (67 percent) for 1,222 yards and 18 touchdowns with three interceptions.

247Sports slates Davis as the No. 10 dual-threat quarterback in the 2017 class. Rivals ranks him 16th at the position.

Missed targets

• Hunter Johnson, 6-3, 200; Brownsburg (Ind.) High: Notre Dame’s search for a quarterback recruit in the 2017 class started with Johnson and didn’t move on until after he made a commitment elsewhere. It’s not often that the Irish don’t have to leave Indiana to find a five-star quarterback prospect.

Notre Dame identified Johnson as a coveted recruited in March 2015, but the Irish couldn’t fend off the competition from outside the state. Johnson initially gave his commitment to Tennessee in August of last year before flipping to Clemson four months later.

The last time the Irish recruited a top quarterback from Indiana, they landed Gunner Kiel, who enrolled at Notre Dame in 2012. He transferred to Cincinnati a year later and failed to reach the lofty expectations from his high school career.

Rivals ranks Johnson as the No. 1 pro-style quarterback and No. 5 overall regardless of position. 247Sports slates Johnson as a four-star recruit and the No. 2 pro-style quarterback behind Stanford commit Davis Mills.

• Hendon Hooker, 6-4, 200; Greensboro (N.C.) Dudley: Before Davis made his intentions clear with Notre Dame, the Irish took a look at Hooker. Following an offer in February, Hooker made a visit a month later. But while Hooker considered a commitment to Virginia Tech, which he would make March 24, Davis grabbed Notre Dame’s quarterback spot.

Hooker has the height that Davis lacks, but the jury is out on which remains the better college prospect. 247Sports slates Hooker as a four-star recruit and the No. 8 dual-threat quarterback in the class. Rivals rates him as a three-star recruit and No. 24 at the position.

In the first eight games of his senior season, Hooker has completed 77 of his 117 passes (66 percent) for 1,504 yards and 15 touchdowns and rushed for 550 yards and 12 scores.

Eye on the future

• Phil Jurkovec, 6-5, 202; Gibsonia (Pa.) Pine-Richland: Two months after Notre Dame received a commitment from Avery Davis, the Irish secured a commitment from one of the top quarterbacks in the 2018 class.

Jurkovec became quarterback priority No. 1 in the class after Sanford watched him play when the Irish visited Pittsburgh last November. He chose the Irish over Alabama, Ohio State, UCLA and more.

The four-star recruit has been absolutely prolific as a high school quarterback. Jurkovec finished his sophomore season with 2,560 passing yards, 1,250 rushing yards and accounted for 31 touchdowns. His junior season was cut short with a torn thumb ligament on his throwing hand. But Jurkovec still managed to complete 104 of his 167 passes for 1,673 yards and 12 touchdowns with two interceptions in six games. He rushed 82 times for 481 yards and eight touchdowns.

247Sports slates Jurkovec as the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback and No. 10 overall in the 2018 class. Rivals ranks him as the No. 3 dual-threat quarterback.

• JT Daniels, 6-1, 195; Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei: After throwing for 3,042 yards and 33 touchdowns as a freshman, Daniels caught Sanford’s eye. Notre Dame made him their first 2019 quarterback target with an offer in January.

Daniels is on pace to blow past last year’s numbers. In seven games, he completed 161 of 199 passes (81 percent) for 2,640 yards and 40 touchdowns with only two interceptions. He has already fielded eight scholarships offers including UCLA, USC and Washington.

247Sports slates Daniels as the No. 1 pro-style quarterback and No. 7 regardless of position in the 2019 class.

tjames@ndinsider.com

574-235-6214

Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Avery Davis runs a drill during the Irish Invasion at Notre Dame Stadium Saturday, June 18, 2016. ND Insider Photo/MICHAEL CATERINA

In the coming weeks, the ND Insider Recruiting Reset series will take a position-by-position look at Notre Dame’s recruiting efforts in the 2017 class. This is the first story of the series, which will be found in its entirety on NDInsider.com.