Injury helped Notre Dame quarterback Tyler Buchner gain perspective: 'I'm a better person'

Mike Berardino
ND Insider

SOUTH BEND — The same transparency that sent fellow quarterback Drew Pyne racing for the transfer portal elicited barely more than a shrug from injured incumbent Tyler Buchner.

At least that was Buchner’s recollection Sunday when asked how it felt to hear directly from coach Marcus Freeman that Notre Dame would seek quarterback help on the transfer market.

“I honestly figured they’d bring in someone just because there’s kind of been rumblings about it,” Buchner said in his first public comments since Dec. 3, immediately after a season-opening loss at Ohio State. “I understand. If somebody gets hurt, you need more depth in the room. You need people.”

Pyne went 8-2 as the starter after stepping in for Buchner when the dual-threat sophomore went out with a major injury to his left (nonthrowing) shoulder. Initially projected to remain out until mid-January, Buchner instead returned to practice last month and appears on track to start the Dec. 30 Gator Bowl against No. 19 South Carolina.

Whether it was Buchner’s impending return or the forecast of an open competition that would include untested freshman Steve Angeli and a transfer to be named, Pyne did not take the news as Freeman had hoped.

“Drew is one of my best friends,” Buchner said. “We still talk. We’re really close. I just wish the best for him. He’s a really talented player. I just want to see him win. He works really hard, and I wish nothing but the best for him.”

Buchner, 0-2 as the Irish starter, will have three seasons of eligibility left after using this as his redshirt season.

Kenny Minchey, a four-star quarterback recruit from Hendersonville, Tenn., recently committed to Notre Dame’s 2023 signing class and has seen his 247Sports composite ranking climb to No. 13 nationally at his position. The early signing period opens Wednesday.

Buchner, who enrolled in January 2021, was a four-star signee who rated No. 11 nationally among quarterbacks in his signing class. Even with a record-setting junior year (2019) at The Bishop’s School in La Jolla, Calif., Buchner has made just 15 total starts over his past five seasons (2018-22).

“You never really envision it going this way,” he said. “It’s never the way you picture it, but you learn a lot through that. Getting hurt wasn’t the worst thing that could have ever happened to me. I’ve learned a lot through it, become a better person.”

Sitting in the coaches’ box with offensive coordinator Tommy Rees and the graduate assistants helped Buchner gain perspective as well.

“I think I’ve become a smarter football player through it,” he said. “I’ve done better in school. I have more time. So, there’s certainly things that you can benefit from.”

Buchner also brightened when asked about younger sister Paige, a nationally ranked women’s soccer forward from San Diego’s Cathedral Catholic High School who signed on Nov. 9 as part of Notre Dame’s 2023 class.

“She’s an awesome girl and a great sister,” Buchner said. “I’m really excited for her to get here. I think she’s really talented. Might be a better athlete than me. We’ll see.”

Billy Schrauth:Who's next in line at guard for Notre Dame? Teammates say it's '100% Billy'

Krimm of the transfer crop

Notre Dame has gone back to its Ivy League pipeline for punter/holder insurance.

With Harvard grad transfer Jon Sot set to depart after the Gator Bowl, Penn grad transfer Ben Krimm has committed with two years of remaining eligibility. Krimm, nephew of former Notre Dame All-America cornerback John Krimm (1978-1981), was a first-team all-Ivy League selection who also served as the Quakers’ holder on placekicks.

Over the past two seasons, Krimm has placed 30 punts inside the opponents' 20-yard-line.

Sot, an outstanding holder as well as punter, handled both jobs after beating out highly rated freshman punter Bryce McFerson in training camp. McFerson, who also did the placekicking in high school, doesn’t have much experience as a holder but remains the frontrunner for Notre Dame punter in 2023.

“He’s going to be the starting punter next year,” special teams coach Brian Mason said on Dec. 11. “He’s done an unbelievable job as the year has gone on. He keeps getting momentum and more consistent. He has an unbelievable leg. We feel very confident in him as the starting punter.”

Walk-on kicker Chris Salerno was the holder last spring while Sot finished up at Harvard. Walk-on freshman kicker Zac Yoakam handed kickoff duties after McFerson was sidelined by a groin strain shortly before the season opener at Ohio State.

Like Yoakam and golf legend Jack Nicklaus, Krimm is a product of Upper Arlington (Ohio) High School, where Krimm was a two-time all-state punter for the Golden Bears.

John Krimm was voted first-team All-America in 1981 by two organizations: the Sporting News and the Newspaper Enterprise Association. A third-round draft pick of the New Orleans Saints, Krimm also returned punts and kickoffs and had four interceptions (including a pick-six) for the Irish.

No. 21 Notre Dame (8-4) vs. No. 19 South Carolina (8-4) 

What: 78th Annual TaxSlayer Gator Bowl 

When: Friday, Dec. 30 at 3:30 p.m. EST 

Where: TIAA Bank Field (67,164), Jacksonville, Fla. 

TV/Radio: ABC, WSBT Radio (960 AM), WNSN (101.5 FM) 

Line: Notre Dame opens as a 4.5 -point favorite  

Series: Notre Dame leads 3-1 

Last meeting: South Carolina won 36-32 in South Bend (1984).   

Follow Notre Dame football writer Mike Berardino on Twitter @MikeBerardino.