If you are a loyal OFD reader, you may have noticed that our Supreme Leader did not perform his yearly endeavor of listing every single Notre Dame scholarship football player in the “This Guy Plays Notre Dame Football” series. In lieu thereof, and with fall camp starting up, I present the first in a set of position group previews leading up to the season opener.
In each of these, I’ll list off all scholarship players at the position and provide comps with a shared theme. First up, the four Notre Dame quarterbacks as members of the “Fab Four”: The Beatles. Hopefully my personal tastes don’t cost us any readers.
No. 12 Tyler Buchner — George Harrison
It’s not an open secret so much as a shared assumption that Tyler Buchner will very quickly put the nail in the coffin of the 2022 quarterback competition. And while George Harrison may not have been the headliner of The Beatles, he was the best one in my opinion.
(I mean, just look at Harrison’s discography as a solo artist: “What is Life”; “My Sweet Lord”; “Got My Mind Set on You”; “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth).” Not to mention that he wrote “Here Comes the Sun” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” for The Beatles. So don’t come at me with any other Beatle beating out that lineup.)
Buchner rushed for three touchdowns and threw for three more in 10 total appearances last season. His freshman production is such a small sample size that extrapolating from his numbers feels inadequate. But it does seem safe to say the promise is there as a runner (336 yards, 7.3 yards per carry) while the passing ability remains a question (21-35, 298 yards, 3 INTs). But that dual-threat ability is unique to ND’s quarterback room and probably the best option in an offense with a revamped offensive line and a lack of depth at wide receiver.
No. 10 Drew Pyne — Paul McCartney
Coming off a disappointing spring game but with the most experience of any quarterback on the roster, Pyne seems all but locked into the No. 2 quarterback spot. And of The Beatles, Paul is No. 2 to me.
(McCartney and John Lennon wrote many Beatles hits together, so the differentiator is their post-Beatles careers. And “Band on the Run,” “The Girl Is Mine,” “Jet,” “Live and Let Die” and “Wonderful Christmastime” beat out “Imagine” and “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” in my book.)
Like Buchner, sample size hinders projecting from Pyne’s career numbers as a rusher (7 carries, -2 yards) and a passer (17-33, 236 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs). Pyne’s passing stats are also weighed down heavily — and I would say unfairly — by a 9-22 showing after he was handed a 17-0 deficit in the second half against Cincinnati last year. As much as Pyne has struggled in his first two seasons, he’ll need to be ready to go if Buchner doesn’t bring his A-game or goes down with an injury, at least one of which is likely to happen at some point in a 12-game schedule.
No. 18 Steve Angeli — John Lennon
Like I hinted at in the previous comp, it feels (to me) like Lennon had two hits, which puts him at No. 3. The early enrollee Angeli has already had one hit of his own — if you want to call it that — with his heroics to end the Blue-Gold Game this past spring.
Hard to tell what his second hit will be, though it would be quite a story if it was beating Pyne out for the No. 2 quarterback job this season. Despite Pyne’s struggles this offseason, the odds of that happening are quite long. (Let’s keep in mind that Pyne is still the only quarterback on the roster who has taken snaps in a College Football Playoff game).
Like Pyne, Angeli is a pro-style passer and (borderline) four-star recruit from the northeast. Expect him to see garbage time action this season but not to receive substantive snaps unless both Pyne and Buchner fall victim to injuries.
No. 11 Ron Powlus III — Ringo Starr
No disrespect to either Powlus of Starr here. But let’s be honest with ourselves. There’s an apocryphal quote that gets floated from John Lennon: “Ringo wasn’t the best drummer in the world … Let’s face it, he wasn’t even the best drummer in The Beatles.” It’s pretty unlikely Lennon ever actually said that, but if he did, the analogous quote for Powlus would probably go something like this:
“Let’s face it, Ronnie isn’t even the best No. 4 quarterback option on the roster.”
Because if Notre Dame somehow loses Buchner, Pyne and Angeli to injury, do you honestly think they would go to Powlus full time? Or do you think — like I do — that they’d use quarterback-turned-cornerback-turned-running back-turned-wide receiver Avery Davis prevalently in a wildcat offense?
Powlus is a legacy recruit and borderline three-star prospect out of Penn High School in Mishawaka. Aside from Notre Dame, his only Power 5 offer was from Kentucky. To be fair, any recruiting momentum he may have built in high school was derailed by a Lisfranc injury in 2019 and the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.
Powlus is a guy who will probably “stick around the program for the long haul” — to use former Irish recruiting coordinator Brian Polian’s words — and that’s commendable in the transfer portal era. For all I just said about him, here’s hoping I look like an idiot and Powlus fulfills the promise his dad never could by winning multiple Heismans for the Irish.