Film Study: Notre Dame QB commit Phil Jurkovec
QB Phil Jurkovec, 6-5, 202; Gibsonia (Pa.) Pine-Richland.
The numbers: A torn thumb ligament shortened Jurkovec’s junior season to six games. He completed 104 of his 167 passes for 1,673 yards and 12 touchdowns with two interceptions before the injury to his throwing (right) hand. Jurkovec also rushed 82 times for 481 yards and eight touchdowns. Pine-Richland (7-5) finished the season with a 63-34 playoff loss to Pittsburgh Central Catholic and went 3-3 without him.
The rankings: Rivals – Four stars, No. 3 dual-threat quarterback. 247Sports – Four stars, No. 4 dual-threat quarterback.
First impression: Jurkovec is an ultra-productive quarterback with video-game numbers. On paper and on film, Jurkovec appears to be a match for new offensive coordinator Chip Long’s scheme. He’s Notre Dame’s most important quarterback commitment since Brandon Wimbush in the 2015 class.
Strengths: Dual-threat quarterback isn’t a good enough descriptor for Jurkovec. It’s too limiting. Jurkovec can do a little bit of everything. Yes, he can run. But he can also throw on the run. And Jurkovec’s ability to put the ball in different parts of the field brings enough threats on its own. Jurkovec will certainly have work to do on precision, decision-making and mechanics, but he’s shown the framework of a complete quarterback. Jurkovec has good instincts with his feet and keeps his eyes downfield to watch his route options develop. His vision and understanding of the offense allows him to find receivers coming open late. Throwing with touch isn’t a problem for Jurkovec. He can place a ball where only his receiver can make a play down the field. As a runner, Jurkovec shows little fear and doesn’t mind being physical with smaller defenders.
Proof of prowess: (1:37) Jurkovec is immediately flushed out of the pocket by a free rusher to his right, but he reacts unfazed. After a play fake, Jurkovec rolls to his right and quickly delivers a pass to his running back streaking wide open in the middle of the field … (1:57) Jurkovec makes a quick decision to keep the ball on a run-pass option and takes off to his right. He doesn’t meet a defender until 15 yards down the field when he plows through a tackle attempt by a defensive back. Jurkovec scampers for another 10-plus yards before being chased out of bounds … (2:44) Jurkovec might not have disguised where he wanted to throw the football, but he delivers a perfect strike to his running back on a wheel route. With the cornerback and safety following the outside receiver, Jurkovec’s target only has to beat the linebacker covering him. One step of separation was all Jurkovec needed to deliver the touchdown pass.
Competition level: Pine-Richland took on some of the top teams in Pennsylvania and a powerhouse program from Ohio in the 2016 season. The two losses for the Rams with Jurkovec in the lineup came against Lakewood St. Edward, the No. 9 team in Ohio according to MaxPreps, and Pittsburgh Central Catholic, the No. 2 team in Pennsylvania according to MaxPreps. In those games, Jurkovec finished 45-of-67 passing for 646 yards and five touchdowns with one interception. He also rushed 42 times for 203 yard and three touchdowns. The Central Catholic defense featured Notre Dame signees David Adams and Kurt Hinish last season.
Left to prove: Jurkovec has only lost three fumbles in two seasons, but he can improve on his ball security. Scrambling with the ball in one hand won’t be encouraged at the college level. Throwing the ball to open receivers hasn’t been much of a problem for Jurkovec in high school. How he adapts to the tighter windows in coverage will likely determine his success at Notre Dame. Jurkovec will be asked at times to help get a receiver open rather than just waiting for the receiver to get open himself.