Four-star QB Drew Pyne gives Notre Dame first 2020 commitment

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Drew Pyne's still a sophomore, but he already has had his fair share of the college football recruiting process.

His first scholarship offers came when he was in the eighth grade. Two years and more than 20 offers later, Pyne decided he's seen enough. The four-star quarterback recruit from New Canaan, Conn. gave Notre Dame his verbal commitment Monday.

"I always told myself that I was never going to push anything and I'd let things come as they were," Pyne said. "When I went to Notre Dame last week, it really felt like home. I didn't feel the need to wait anymore. I really love Notre Dame."

That affinity for the Irish runs deep. Pyne, who made an unofficial visit to Notre Dame on Thursday, grew up a fan of former Irish quarterback Brady Quinn. That's why he wears the No. 10.

Not long after Pyne announced his commitment, Quinn gave the 6-foot-1, 175-pound quarterback a shout-out on Twitter.

Happy to hear @dpyne10 committing to @NDFootball!!! Life changing decision! I hope you enjoy your experience as much as I did. #10 #4for40#GoIrish#NDFamily

— Brady Quinn (@3rd_Goal) April 16, 2018

It was a highlight to an already important day for Pyne.

"That's awesome. He was my idol growing up," Pyne said. "Brady Quinn really made me passionate about playing quarterback ever since I was six years old or something. He's been unbelievable. For him to do that for me, it really hits me because I looked up to him as a kid. Everywhere I went, I wanted to be Brady Quinn."

Notre Dame's coaching staff gave Pyne the opportunity to follow Quinn's college path. Last June, Pyne threw for Irish quarterbacks coach Tommy Rees and offensive coordinator Chip Long at a Notre Dame camp. His performance quickly landed him a scholarship offer from the Irish. Notre Dame hasn't offered any other quarterbacks in the 2020 class.

Pyne returned to Notre Dame in September for the Georgia game. He went to the Citrus Bowl in January to see the Irish while his family was in Florida. Pyne already has a good grasp on Notre Dame's program and believes in everything the Irish are selling him.

"(Head) Coach (Brian) Kelly's really driven to making them better in the near future and right now. He's really working hard," Pyne said. "They play a national schedule, and they're on national television every single week. When I'm there, they'll play teams like Ohio State and Wisconsin. It will be really exciting to play against those type of teams.

"Also, coach Rees has been awesome to me. To have a relationship with him, who will be my quarterbacks coach and someone who has experienced being a Notre Dame quarterback, it's something that can really benefit me. He can develop me into the quarterback at Notre Dame.

"Coach Long, I love his offense and the way he coaches. Coach Kelly, he's really driven to win a national title.

"Lastly, obviously the education is second-to-none. The business school is No. 1 undergraduate in the country, and that's what I'm looking to go into in college. Everything just kind of felt like home, especially when I went up there on Thursday. I'm really excited about it."

The feeling should be mutual for the Irish. Notre Dame has been unable to land a quarterback commitment in the 2019 class after Cade McNamara ditched his eight-month pledge in March. While the coaching staff sorts out its options for 2019, Pyne has the makings of a perfect fit in the 2020 class.

Pyne, 17, won a state championship as a freshman quarterback at New Canaan (Conn.) High. Last season, he completed 169 of his 283 passes (59.7 percent) for 2,355 yards and 25 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. He also rushed 93 times for 273 yards and seven touchdowns.

247Sports slates Pyne as the No. 7 pro-style quarterback in the 2020 class. Rivals rates him as a four-star recruit but has yet to numerically rank the class.

"He's a good one," said CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming. "He's kind of built like Joe Theismann was when Joe came to Notre Dame. He has the same type of ability. He has a great arm for a little skinny guy. He can run, and he's very smart. He's a kid that was born to play quarterback. That's a big-time catch for them."

Pyne was always going to be a football player. His great-grandfather (George), grandfather (George) and uncle (Jim) all played professional football. Pyne's father, also George, played football at Brown before becoming a business executive. Now the CEO of Bruin Sports Capital, George Pyne previously served as the chief operating officer of NASCAR and the president of IMG Sports and Entertainment.

Drew Pyne's cousin, Kevin, is also a Notre Dame recruiting target in the 2020 class as a 6-foot-8, 265-pound offensive lineman. Both Drew and Kevin visited Notre Dame on Thursday.

"Pretty much if you're a boy in the Pyne family, you play football," Drew Pyne said. "I've been playing ever since I can remember. It's just been a part of my life. It means a lot to me and my family. I think my sisters know what cover two and cover three is."

Pyne wants to be able to pick those coverages apart. He already has thrown for 4,702 yards and 51 touchdowns in his first two seasons at New Canaan. His goal: two more state championships.

"I take a lot of pride in being accurate," Pyne said. "I like to be able to place the ball places that only my wide receiver can catch it. There's always room to improve. I want to get better in every aspect as a quarterback."

How did Pyne end up on the recruiting radar of college programs so early? He's not exactly sure. He ended up with an offer list that included the likes of Alabama, Florida State, Michigan, Oklahoma and Penn State. 

"I'm just thankful for all the interest," Pyne said. "It means a lot for people like that to believe in me. I try not to get too caught up in it, but I'm thankful for everything that's happened."

The University of Notre Dame

C O M M I T T E D#GoIrish☘️

— Drew Pyne (@dpyne10) April 16, 2018


— Brian Kelly (@CoachBrianKelly) April 16, 2018

Quarterback Drew Pyne, a 2020 recruit, reported a Notre Dame offer on June 24, 2017. (Photo courtesy of Rivals)