Notre Dame football getting early jump on 2019 QB recruiting

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

While Notre Dame’s assistant football coaches hit the recruiting trail for the evaluation period, Tommy Rees is stuck at home.

Until the NCAA allows FBS programs to officially designate a 10th assistant coach in January of next year, the Irish quarterbacks coach has limited recruiting options. But that hasn’t stopped Notre Dame from pushing forward with quarterbacks in the 2019 class.

Because quarterback Phil Jurkovec has been verbally committed to Notre Dame’s 2018 class since last May, the Irish have the luxury of being able to work ahead with high school sophomores. They did that earlier this week by offering two new quarterbacks in the 2019 class: Bo Nix and Spencer Rattler.

The 6-foot-2, 194-pound Nix reported a Notre Dame offer Tuesday morning on Twitter. The day prior, Irish offensive coordinator Chip Long evaluated Nix at Pinson (Ala.) Valley. Nix’s father, Patrick, a former Auburn quarterback and the head coach at Pinson Valley, said the two have been in touch with both Long and Rees.

Rattler, a 6-2, 180-pound product of Phoenix Pinnacle, reported a Notre Dame offer later Tuesday evening. He said he called Rees earlier that day and learned of his new scholarship.

The reports from Nix and Rattler marked the first Notre Dame quarterback offers in the 2019 class since former offensive coordinator Mike Sanford offered Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei’s JT Daniels in January 2016. Identifying Nix and Rattler as targets in addition to Daniels shows the Irish coaching staff has a solid handle on quarterback recruiting.

“As long as you have a guy like Chip Long, who has a great reputation offensively, they should be in good shape,” said CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming. “Tommy has to build his reputation. He's never signed a guy yet or gone out on the recruiting trail. Everyone needs a start.

“It's smart that they're doing it this way to get his feet wet with working on the quarterbacks that he's actually going to be the coach of. Those three are the very best in the country for 2019.”

Lemming, like most recruiting analysts, still gives the nod for top quarterback in the class to Daniels. In two seasons at Mater Dei, the 6-2, 205-pound Daniels has thrown for 7,891 yards and 100 touchdowns with only 10 interceptions.

“JT is a precision passer with a good arm,” Lemming said. “He plays against good competition and still looks great. That's what you look for.”

But the Irish aren’t lowering their standards with offers to Nix and Rattler. 247Sports slates Nix as the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback and Rattler as the No. 3 pro-style quarterback in the 2019 class.

Naturally, Nix will be hard to keep away from his father’s alma mater. That hasn’t stopped the likes of Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma from joining Auburn on his offer list.

As a sophomore at Scottsboro (Ala.) High, Nix completed 101 of his 183 passes for 1,737 yards and 16 touchdowns with four interceptions. He also rushed 130 times for 1,300 yards and 20 touchdowns.

“Bo is just like his dad,” Lemming said. “He's a coach on the field. He has a live arm. He's athletic. He does everything well. He's the kind of guy that will get the job done."

Rattler was a more prolific thrower than runner in his sophomore season. He finished 220-of-352 passing for 2,893 yards and 29 touchdowns with 10 interceptions. He added 77 rushes for 462 yards and five touchdowns.

His résumé has attracted offers from Alabama, Oklahoma, UCLA, Texas A&M, Miami and more.

“Spencer is a big-time athlete,” Lemming said. “He's the best player in Arizona for 2019. He has an electric arm, and he's a terrific athlete."

The next step will be trying to get both quarterbacks on campus for visits. The Irish might not be done with offering quarterbacks with the evaluation period stretching through the end of May, but Long and Rees have Notre Dame in position to build momentum. It all starts with a little bit of interest.

"Both of them could become the starting quarterback at Notre Dame,” Lemming said of Nix and Rattler. “They're both capable of it, and they're both big-time guys. It's smart that Notre Dame has offered these guys early."

tjames@ndinsider.com

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Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Notre Dame made Spencer Rattler one of its top 2019 quarterback targets with a scholarship offer earlier this week. (Photo courtesy of azcentral sports)