Notebook: Notre Dame QB commit Tyler Buchner already helping recruit

Carter Karels
South Bend Tribune

In a way, a torn ACL in his left knee helped Tyler Buchner.

Six months removed from surgery, Notre Dame’s 2021 quarterback commit experiences limitations in his throwing delivery. As a right-hander, Buchner’s not able to generate much from his braced up front leg. As a result, he’s improved flinging the football off his back foot.

The 6-foot-2, 203-pounder prides himself on accurately delivering off-platform throws. Buchner’s athleticism and arm allows him to dish passes off-balance and with a retooled motion. That will translate to when he’s flushed out of the pocket and might need to fire a pass into a tight window.

“The funny part about it is, he’s actually added a few more throws that some quarterbacks aren’t as good at off-platform, with having the injury,” said Team Dime’s Danny Hernandez, Buchner’s private quarterbacks coach. “He’s able to do some things off his back leg that not a lot of guys can do.”

Buchner suffered the injury on the first series of last season. As a freshman, Buchner served as La Jolla (Calif.) The Bishop School’s backup quarterback. He’s thrown fewer than 40 passes in high school, yet holds offers from Alabama, Georgia, Michigan and most notable schools on the West Coast. He’s a four-star recruit on 247Sports, ranking as its No. 2 pro-style quarterback and No. 49 overall player.

With little high school tape to advertise, Buchner impresses college coaches through in-person throwing sessions. Last year, a USC coach watched Buchner throw one pass before leaving and later offering him. The Irish offered Buchner after their first look at him in last June’s Elite Skills Camp.

Off-platform throws are Buchner’s ace in the hole. Buchner developed a simulated play in which he dances around the pocket before delivering a strike downfield off his back foot.

“I don’t have guys on my team right now that could make that throw,” Hernandez recalls a Pac-12 coach telling him.

Buchner’s 4.65 40-yard dash speed comes with east-to-west quickness that allows him to escape defenders. Though he’s a pass-first quarterback, Buchner uses his legs to improvise and extend plays. Irish offensive coordinator Chip Long and quarterbacks coach Tommy Rees told Buchner he reminds them of Ian Book in that regard.

Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers and Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs are two quarterbacks Buchner studies the most. Both gunslingers have mastered the art of off-platform passes.

“You would be surprised,” said Buchner, who is of half Chinese and one-quarter German and Irish descent. “I actually work on that probably more than my normal throws. It has gotten to the point where I can sit in the pocket and make a lot of those throws. I don’t just sit back in the pocket when we are throwing. I’m moving, throwing across my body, off one foot, two feet, all over the place.”

Buchner eyes May 11 as his return to competition for Oakland’s regional Elite 11 quarterback camp. He will continue to polish his off-platform throws with Hernandez in Orange County.

Bryce Young, the nation’s No. 1 dual-threat quarterback for 2020, also trains under Hernandez’s tutelage. Unlike Buchner, he’s proven on the field in high school. And against far better competition than Buchner will face in the San Diego area.

Yet, Buchner could be on his way to reaching Young’s level.

“Tyler is able to make those same throws, but Tyler is a bigger, stronger kid,” Hernandez said of Buchner compared with Young. “So he can sometimes make that same (off-platform) throw from a deeper distance. It’s impressive.”

Extra recruiter

Phil Jurkovec (2018 class), Cade McNamara (2019 class) and Drew Pyne (2020 class) are the only quarterbacks to commit to Notre Dame under Brian Kelly before their junior seasons. Buchner not only joined them, but he also became the earliest quarterback to verbally pledge to a Kelly-led Irish squad.

“The coaches made it clear that they liked me and that if I wanted to commit, I could,” said Buchner, who privately committed on March 4 but announced the news on March 8. “I figured, why wait any longer? It was also a benefit that I could commit early and start helping with the recruiting class.”

John Humphreys, a 2020 receiver, was one recruit Buchner name-dropped. Humphreys hails from the same area as Buchner at Corona Del Mar in Newport Beach, Calif., and the two see each other often on visits. But the four-star receiver committed to Stanford on Thursday.

Blake Fisher, one of the nation’s top 2021 offensive tackles, reached out to Buchner following his commitment. Buchner also hopes to lure Lorenzo Styles Jr., an Irish receiver target split between Notre Dame and Ohio State.

247Sports tags Fisher as a four-star recruit, ranking him as its No. 9 offensive tackle and No. 88 overall player. He’s consider a lean toward the Irish and has taken three visits to South Bend since Nov. 10, 2018.

Buchner threw to Styles at ND’s Elite Skills Camp last summer. Styles took three more visits to South Bend over the next several months, including with Buchner for last month’s junior day.

“It’s so easy to recruit to Notre Dame,” Buchner said. “It’s so easy for me that I feel like it should be easy for everyone else. If there are similar kids who have similar goals — academically as well as football — as me, it’s so easy. I don’t think it will be that difficult. I won’t have to come up with any specific schemes or anything.

“It’s Notre Dame. It sells itself.”

More top lists

Two 2020 recruits included the Irish in their top lists, which were announced on Monday via Twitter. Southlake (Texas) Carroll safety RJ Mickens listed Notre Dame in his top 11. Aurora (Colo.) Eaglecrest offensive lineman Reece Atteberry included the Irish in his top five.

Mickens, a four-star recruit, also named Alabama, Clemson, LSU, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Michigan, Florida, Nebraska and Miami as his other top schools. He’s taken two unofficial visits to Notre Dame. 247Sports ranks him as its No. 4 safety and No. 81 overall player. Rivals slates him as its No. 1 safety and No. 42 overall player.

Atteberry named Duke, Nebraska, Michigan and Ohio State as his other top schools. He took his first trip to South Bend last month for ND’s Feb. 23 junior day. 247Sports rates Atteberry as a four-star recruit, ranking him as its No. 3 center and No. 248 overall player. Rivals tags Atteberry as a three-star recruit, slating him as its No. 45 offensive tackle.

Tyler Buchner, a 2021 quarterback from La Jolla (Calif.) The Bishop’s School, committed to Notre Dame on March 8, 2019.
Recruit Lorenzo Styles Jr. arrives to the player walk before the Michigan at Notre Dame NCAA football game Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018 at Notre Dame Stadium.