Story Poster
Photo by Bart Boatwright
Notre Dame Football Recruiting

QB Country Coach | Intangibles Set Notre Dame QB Commit Drew Pyne Apart

September 10, 2019

Drew Pyne‍ doesn’t need to prove himself to Thomas Morris as a player or as a person, Pyne has done that again and again.

But that doesn’t stop him from continuing to do so.

“He’s just a first-class kid,” says Morris, the head coach of QB Country’s Nashville and Memphis locations, who Pyne works with.

“After every single time I work him out, I swear to you, I get a hand-written letter in the mail, thanking me for coaching him and working him and how he’s excited about his improvement. He’s a first-class kid and that’s a first-class family. He’s obviously a pleasure to be around and easy to work with.”

Hand-written letters will never help the 2020 Notre Dame quarterback commit complete a pass in South Bend, but the attitude behind them could serve him well.

“It’s an intangible that he just has,” Morris says. “He’s just kind of a natural leader and a giver and will do more than what’s asked of him. He’s just a great kid. It’s just something that natural leaders have. He genuinely cares about people. He’s just an absolute pleasure to work with. He’s just a great kid.

“When you get down to it, there are a lot of really talented quarterbacks, especially when you get to that level. Everybody is really talented, but when you get on the field, if you have those intangibles, that’s what sets you apart; how fast you can process information, if you can get the team behind you by being a leader, being a grinder. I think those things are really important, especially as you move on to Notre Dame and on with his career. In high school, he’s kind of the guy right now, but when you’re fighting for a position, I think those intangibles are the things that really set you apart and he’s got them. It just kind of comes natural to him.”

Morris and the QB Country crew, which was founded by David Morris, began working with Pyne when he was just an eighth-grader.

“I remember watching his film and being like, ‘Oh my gosh! This kid is really beyond his years,’” Morris recalls. “He’s always had that It Factor.”

Whenever their schedules align, Pyne will travel down to Mobile, Ala., or Nashville or Morris will fly up to Connecticut to work.

“We might train together once a month, but we get a ton of good work in,” says Morris. “We’ll hit the field and film everything. Then, we’ll go up and watch and say, ‘Hey, this is what we’re doing right. This is what we’ve got to work on.’ Then, we go out the next workout and try to master those critiques.”

QB Country works with several top-level quarterbacks at all levels, including Eli Manning and Daniel Jones, who was the sixth pick of this year’s NFL Draft by Manning’s New York Giants. Morris’ roster also includes guys like AJ McCarron, Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm and many other talented college and high school quarterbacks.

Pyne has taken advantage of the chance to build relationships with some of those guys.

“It’s fun to be able to throw those guys in together and see how special quarterbacks compete against each other and push each other to get better,” says Morris. “You learn different things from different guys. You see how some guys compete obviously. That’s one thing I don’t really worry about with Drew at all.

“But you also see how a guy studies film. You see how these guys process information and what the recall is from years ago, calling back a play or formation or coverage. I think you pick up little things like that from working with elite guys. On the field, you compete, you have fun, you push each other, but I think you learn a lot more about yourself off the field, in the film room…talking shop and talking ball.”

Drew Pyne with Daniel Jones looking on

Pyne was really just a kid when he started working with QB Country.

“But he had an incredible motion and was so twitchy and agile,” says Morris. “He kind of reminded me of a Johnny Manziel the way he moved around in the pocket. He started off as a dual-threat guy running around and making plays with his feet and extending plays. Now, he’s really turned into more of a pocket passer. He’s got a little more Baker Mayfield in him. He can extend plays with his legs, but he’s more of a pocket passer.

“It’s been fun to see him progress and get better year by year and transform from this tall, lanky kid in eighth grade to a bigger pocket passer kid.”

Morris says the transformation happened naturally.

“When you’re younger, you feel things in the pocket differently, you feel the pressure differently,” he says. “I think he may have been early to get out at times.

“Now, I feel like he’s progressing to sitting in the pocket. He can stand in the pocket, take a hit and deliver a throw where he might have tried to run out earlier in his career. He’s able to stand in the pocket and deliver strikes.”

Pyne worked hard this offseason to bulk up and change his body.

“We’ve been working on it a ton; eating healthy, staying in the weight room,” Morris explains. “He’s up to 200 pounds, so he’s 6-1, 200. That’s probably what he wants to play at. You look at guys like Baker Mayfield, same build, 6-1, 200 pounds and can still move. He’s still Drew, he’s still going to extend plays. He’s still the twichiest kid out there, but he can stand in the pocket and deliver a strike.”

As far as Pyne’s natural gifts, Morris points to his extreme accuracy.

“That’s something you have to have,” he says. “You have to be accurate with the ball. He’s always been accurate, always been extremely twitchy, quick. He’s always had that It Factor, he’s always had those intangibles as a natural leader. He’s one of those kids you want to get behind and fight for. He’s always had those things.”

One thing they’ve been working on in conjunction with the added weight is additional emphasis on consistently completely deep balls and intermediate throws.

I don’t think he’s even scratched the surface
- Thomas Morris

“He’s always been extremely accurate, so you think, ‘What can I get better at?’” says Morris. “He’s always had a great arm, but we want him to really be able to push the ball down the field, so we’ve been working his comebacks, his deep balls. I think that’s something we really put an emphasis on this offseason.”

And it’s paying off, according to Morris.

“He’s never, never thrown it better,” the coach says. “He’s really strong from all of that work in the weight room and added weight. His arm has really gotten a lot stronger and it’s fun to see him do that, be able to push the ball, working these 20-yard comebacks, 20-yard daggers. It’s been fun to watch him get stronger and be able to push the ball downfield.

“If you’re a 6-foot-1 guy, you’ve got to be sturdy. You’ve got to be able to take a hit. If you’re 6-1, 180, you’re not going to have the muscle mass you need to take these hits. But if you look at the guys like Baker Mayfield, he plays in the pros at 200 and 205 and he can take those hits. That’s kind of what we want for his game weight. We want it to be around 200, maybe a little more, maybe a little less. The faster he can get to 200, which he did, the more he can turn it into leaner muscle and turn it into more arm strength. I think it helps both. I think it helps your durability, but I think it helps arm strength and being stronger. If he gets to Notre Dame at 200, he doesn’t have to worry about putting on weight. He’s ready to go.”

Having the opportunity to work with a program like QB Country at such an early age have led some to wonder if Pyne is close to maxing out his ability or if his ceiling isn’t as high as some of his peers. Not according to Morris.

“I don’t think he’s even scratched the surface,” he says.

In fact, the fact those questions are even being asked are likely to make Pyne work that much harder to prove the doubters wrong.

“He’s one of the more motivated kids I’ve ever been around,” says Morris. “He finds motivation in everything. Anything anybody says or whatever happens, he uses that as motivation to push himself. It’s unbelievable. He’s so self-motivated to be the best that I really don’t think he’s even scratched the surface. He has so much room for growth and potential there that he’s just really starting.”

Morris and Pyne were trying to get as much work in together as possible, but with Pyne’s senior season at New Canaan High School kicking off this Friday, there won’t be much of an opportunity to get together. As an early enrollee, Pyne will be off to South Bend shortly after his season is completed.

“I won’t be able to work with him really until maybe after he enrolls,” says Morris. 

Still, they were able to get together for some work last month.

Morris sees big things in the future for Pyne with the Irish.

“I think he can really light up that offense,” he says. “You saw what (Ian) Book did and I think they’re similar guys. I think there should be a seamless transition if Drew ends up being the guy. I think he can come in and take the reins and people will be excited to see what he can do.

“I hate to compare him to two Heisman Trophy winners, but he looks a little bit like Baker Mayfield, he used to look a little more like Johnny. That’s what comes to mind when I see Drew play. I’m not saying that he’s going to win a Heisman Trophy, but I see similarities there and that’s kind of where the game is going; toward guys who can move around and make big-time throws in not-ideal circumstances.

“That’s who I see when I watch Drew. I’m not saying he’s going to win the Heisman or be the first pick or first round or anything, but that’s who I see.”

subscribe Verify your student status
See Subscription Benefits
Trial only available to users who have never subscribed or participated in a previous trial.