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This Guy Plays Notre Dame Football: #15 Phil Jurkovec, Quarterback

The super-hyped 2018 blue-chipper is now firmly entrenched as Ian Book’s backup. Is he ready to take over in 2020, or worse — if something goes wrong?

NCAA Football: Notre Dame Spring Game Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

And so begins another round of “This Guy Plays Notre Dame Football” here on OFD. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have a roster full of players, and we want to talk about them all. One Foot Down’s player profile series will take a look at every single one of them, and hopefully we all learn a little bit more about these guys, and Notre Dame’s chances for the upcoming 2019 season.

#15 Phil Jurkovec, QB

Phil Jurkovec will only be a sophomore in 2019, but with the amount his potential and his abilities have already been discussed by fans and media, you would think he’s entering 2019 as an incumbent senior starter at the quarterback position.

Jurkovec was a blue-chip recruit in the Class of 2018 — a highly-touted, dual-threat guy who tore up some pretty strong Pennsylvania high school football competition en route to being the #83 overall prospect in 247 Sports’ 2018 composite rankings, an Army All-American, and a guy who otherwise held offers from Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State, and others. He has a cannon for an arm and is a strong runner, having the speed and athleticism to scramble/buy time to throw, or take off for big gains on the ground.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Wake Forest Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Entering his true freshman season, and on the heels of a 2017 season that exposed some flaws in then-starter Brandon Wimbush’s game, many fans were already calling for Jurkovec and his laser rocket arm to be handed the 2018 reins, jumping Ian Book and replacing Wimbush and his extremely successful record as starting QB. That obviously did not happen, as with most true freshman QBs, Jurkovec had much to learn and refine in terms of his technique, his body, Chip Long’s offense, etc.

Now, though, with Wimbush moved on to Central Florida and Ian Book cemented as starter after an exceptional 2018 season leading the Irish to the College Football Playoff, Jurkovec finds himself as the much-heralded backup who is just one injury away (KNOCK ON WOOD) from taking over the offense of a Top 10 team.

Taylor Swift, Bon Jovi, or Chicago

“So Much to Say, So Much to Give” - Chicago

Believe it or not, there are actually people out there who are already wanting to write off Jurkovec as something of a bust because he hasn’t taken the starting job yet, considering his hype coming in as a prospect. That’s absolute garbage, and I still fully expect this guy to be the starting QB for 1-2 years and do a very, very good job at it. He is still INCREDIBLY early in his collegiate career, so I think it’s safe to say that, considering his raw talent and some more time developing under Long and Rees and co., he’s got a TON of great football inside him that we will hopefully not have to see get unleashed until 2020, when a successful Ian Book has moved on from the team and the reins are handed to Phil.

Hey Dog HEY!

Doing our best to make sure you know which one of man’s best friends match each Notre Dame player.

Pharoah Hound

From the Wikipedia link above: “At first glance, the Pharaoh Hound appears both graceful and elegant as well as powerful and athletic. Its build is one of strength without bulkiness or excessive musculature.” To me, this sounds like Jurkovec, who is not at all a bulky guy but still is a strong runner, has a very strong arm, and looks elegant as hell as he runs with his long, seemingly slow strides.

There’s also a myth this breed descends from the dogs depicted on the walls of ancient Egyption tombs, meaning these guys, like Jurkovec, have been hyped up for a long time now by a lot of people — and they’re still out here doing their thing, proving their skill (either in hunting, or in quarterbacking).

Dogs And Owners Gather For 2012 Crufts Dog Show Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

2019 Outlook

I think, for the most part, we will only see Jurkovec in garbage time against teams the Irish are blowing out. Luckily, the first two games of the season against Louisville and New Mexico should provide that opportunity to see Jurkovec running things in the second half, and give us a better glimpse into how good this kid could become, and if he will be ready to lead the offense to greater heights after Ian Book moves on.

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff Semifinal-Cotton Bowl-Notre Dame vs Clemson Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

I expect we will generally like what we see from Jurkovec, but ultimately won’t have any reason to claim he should jump Book on the depth chart. With that said, it’s a rarity for the Irish to go a full season without the starting QB suffering some sort of injury, either minor or major. So we might get a chance to see Jurkovec running things in an important, critical game. Your guess is as good as mine in terms of whether he’s ready for that, but I choose to think that with his skillset and having had a full year under his belt, he will at least be serviceable and provide some athleticism and arm power to boot.

YouTube Hot Fire

Just a lil’ reminder, for all the doubters, of what this kid did to Pennsylvania football competition just a little over a year ago.