Notebook: Under Armour All-America Game to feature three Notre Dame signees

Carter Karels
South Bend Tribune

One of Drew Pyne’s longer stretches without throwing a football in a competition setting came to an end this week.

A throwing shoulder injury sidelined Notre Dame’s quarterback signee for New Canaan (Conn.) High’s final game of the season, a Dec. 9 playoff loss. Pyne then hosted Irish head coach Brian Kelly and quarterbacks coach Tommy Rees for an in-home visit two days later.

They discussed Pyne’s invite to participate in the Under Armour All-America Game in Orlando, Fla., and the four days of practices that precede it. Pyne received the green light to compete in the high school football all-star game, joining two Irish signees: running back Chris Tyree and long snapper Alex Peitsch.

Pyne (No. 12), Tyree (No. 3) and Peitsch (No. 46) all represent Team Savage and will face Team Pressure at 6 p.m. EST Thursday on ESPN2.

“Coach Kelly talked about just coming down here,” Pyne said, “competing against the best guys in the country, adjusting to the speed and practicing with these guys. I think it was the best decision I could have made.”

247Sports national recruiting analyst Greg Biggins ranks the six quarterbacks competing after each day, and Pyne has yet to establish himself near the top of the group. Biggins slated Pyne behind fellow Team Savage quarterbacks Haynes King (Texas A&M) and Robby Ashford (Oregon) on Monday. 

Pyne entered the week as the lowest-ranked quarterback there. 247Sports rates him as a three-star recruit, the No. 18 pro-style quarterback and No. 743 overall player in the 2020 class.

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Pyne knows competition awaits next season with a quarterback room that features Ian Book, Phil Jurkovec and Brendon Clark. Pyne felt he needed a final tune up before coming to Notre Dame as one of nine early enrollees. He will officially enroll and begin spring semester classes on Jan. 14.

“Coming down here, I’ve really improved a lot,” Pyne said. “It feels more comfortable to play against these guys, and I’ll feel more comfortable going into college as well.”

Tyree back to himself

Chris Tyree doesn’t remember the name of the agility competition, dubbed the Blur Extreme Speed Drill. All that matters is he won on Tuesday.

Pitted against some of the nation’s other top speedsters, Tyree flashed what made him so coveted by the Irish. He had lost some of that speed and short-area burst in his senior season at Chester (Va.) Thomas Dale while dealing with a middle-grade high ankle sprain.

After months of aggravating the injury, Tyree finally feels himself again. He benefited from more than a month off.

“Everything happens for a reason,” said Tyree regarding the injury. “I’m past that now, so I’m not really worried about it. I would say I’m 100-percent healthy right now. This is actually the first time I’ve tested on it in a while, and I feel really good.”

Tyree entered The Opening Regionals in July in a similar predicament. He spent the beginning of the summer hobbled by a hamstring injury and felt rusty when clocking his 40-yard dash. Yet, his time of 4.37 seconds topped all the other athletes in the “fastest man” competition.

Needing nearly 2,000 rushing yards to surpass Thomas Dale’s career rushing record, Tyree held lofty expectations coming into his senior season. He had to settle for 655 yards and nine touchdowns on 71 carries due to his limited availability.

The Irish need a durable Tyree, especially after running back Tony Jones Jr. declared early for the NFL Draft. The plan for the 5-foot-10, 185-pound Tyree is to add five to 10 more pounds before coming to Notre Dame in June.

“That’s something to think about,” said Tyree of his role next season. “But right now I’m just worried about being prepared for when I actually get there so that they can use me to my full potential.”

Draft decisions

After quarterback Ian Book, running back Tony Jones Jr. and safety Alohi Gilman made their plans known, Notre Dame’s most notable draft decision remaining is tight end Cole Kmet.

The two-sport Irish athlete told reporters in mid-November that he intended to pass on the NFL Draft and return for 2020. But Kmet has yet to make a decision public as his high draft stock becomes more apparent.

According to Pete Sampson of The Athletic, Kmet received a second-round grade from the College Advisory Committee. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler ranks Kmet as his No. 1 tight end.

Kmet leaving could mean a significant role for incoming freshman Michael Mayer next season. The Irish signee projects as an immediate impact player regardless and is flirting with five-star pedigree.

“The way I look at it, it’s a win-win situation,” said Mayer of Kmet’s decision, which must be made by Jan. 17. “If he stays, I can learn a ton from him and play behind him. He can teach me everything pretty much. If he leaves, I’ve got Brock (Wright), Tommy Tremble and others to teach me the way.”

Mayer will play in Saturday's All-American Bowl in San Antonio on NBC at 1 p.m. EST with three fellow Notre Dame signees: offensive tackles Tosh Baker and Michael Carmody and wide receiver Jordan Johnson.

Pyne meets Cam

Participating in the Under Armour All-America Game comes with perks like free athletic gear and being mentored by college and professional athletes.

Pyne spent time with Carolina Panthers quarterback and 2010 Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton earlier this week.

“Cam was great. He had no filter in what he was saying,” Pyne said. “He was speaking very real to us. He talked about his mistakes and how he came back from it. He talked about having the mindset now of being able to take all the adversity in the college and the pros. He was very real.”

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Notre Dame quarterback signee Drew Pyne will compete in the Under Armour All-America Game on Jan. 2.