Notre Dame Football Recruiting

Drew Pyne Has Followed Plan From The Start

January 12, 2020
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Any high school head coach would be thrilled to add a freshman who already had a Power Five offer to their roster, but that doesn’t mean it comes without challenges.

New Canaan High School head coach Lou Marinelli embraced those challenges when he welcomed a young Drew Pyne to his roster a few years back.

Jay Egan, New Canaan’s athletic director, called the strategy Marinelli employed to integrate Pyne to the team “very wise.”

When the 2016 season started, the Rams had a senior quarterback who had been waiting his turn.

“Had Drew not come in, he would have been the heir apparent to the quarterback position,” Egan remembers. “That young man was given every first opportunity through the season and through our first couple games. Drew was given some opportunities with the second group in scrimmages. Then he got a chance to play some in the first couple games.”

Pyne built up a strong enough body of work to emerge as the winner of the competition.

“It was clear to everyone; to his teammates, to the fans, everyone that he was obviously the person who should be playing quarterback for us,” Egan recalls. “You play the best people regardless of grade or where they came from or anything like that.”

While the move was obviously fair to the upperclassman, it helped Pyne as well.

“It allowed him to be very well-received and accepted by his teammates,” Egan says. “He had a lot to do with that too. He never brags, he’s never interested in putting the spotlight on himself. He’s been that way since day one.”

Pyne (right) and his brother Brendan.

High expectations were understandably placed on Pyne, who already had a scholarship offer by the time he enrolled in high school, and he fulfilled them for the most part.

“You can see what he’s accomplished here as far as football is concerned,” says Egan. “It speaks for itself.”

Pyne led the Rams to a state title as a freshman and a 40-10 overall record during his four years. He threw more than 100 touchdown passes and almost 10,000 yards in his career.

“Since day one, when he walked into the building with all of the unusual news that followed him about being offered a scholarship by Florida State as an eighth-grader having never played high school football, you wouldn’t really know it was associated with this kid,” Egan says. “He’s just one of our students. We have a lot of nice kids here. I would describe him as a normal student-athlete at New Canaan High School.”

Egan believes Pyne’s personality will help him fit well at Notre Dame.

“I think his emotional IQ, his awareness of people is high,” he says. “The way he fit in here, I think he’ll fit in there. I think he’ll know it’s important to create relationships with his teammates and he’ll do that. There’s really nothing about him that’s going to be offensive. He won’t piss people off. He won’t be arrogant. He won’t be the type of athlete who is polarizing in any way.”

Pyne won’t arrive in South Bend with quite the same fanfare as he did in New Canaan simply because the Irish’s roster is stocked with similar caliber players, but Notre Dame quarterbacks always receive plenty of attention. He’ll have even more now that Phil Jurkovec has left the program, meaning he’ll begin his career as the Irish’s de facto #3 quarterback.

“He’s done it once,” says Egan. “He’s gone into a new situation with a lot of hype and he’s been successful.

“Now you know in your mind, ‘I’ve done this once. This is the way I did it. I was myself and I did it and it seemed to work out for me, so I’ll do the same thing.’”

Pyne has plenty of mentors to go to, including his Pop Warner coach Donte Williams and his coaches at QB Country, including David and Thomas Morris among others. Egan knows Pyne values the advice they offer.

“There are a lot of kids you can talk to them until you’re blue in the face and you’re a dumbass and they know better than you,” says Egan. “You could have the best people around you giving the best possible advice, but are you going to take that advice and use it to make yourself better? Or are you going to say, ‘You know what? I already know this. I know how I’m going to do this.’

“I think he’s a humble kid and that’s an important quality today for an athlete. Having humility as an athlete is a tremendous asset. The kids that don’t, I think they hurt themselves by not being willing to see what’s needed to be done.”

All Pyne needs to do is be himself and there’s a good chance he’ll become a team leader of some sort sooner than later.

“Leadership is really about service,” says Egan. “The leaders in any sport who endear themselves to their teammates are people who are willing to do things for other people and genuinely care about helping their teammates as well as their own performance.

“I think an intangible he possesses is that type of leadership ability.”

New Canaan English teacher Ellen Fitzpatrick saw Pyne embrace his future college the way he did with his high school.

“I definitely think that Drew will be a perfect fit in the culture at Notre Dame,” she says. “He is already such a strong ambassador for the school and the program, and it is clear he’s proud to be a part of the Notre Dame community. I think he will bring so much spirit and enthusiasm to the school.” 

New Canaan Math teacher Sean Killelea is a college football fan, so he was well aware of the buzz that surrounded Pyne’s enrollment at the school, but was more impressed with what he saw from Pyne off the field than on it over the last four years. And Killelea isn’t just a college football fan, he has a team.

“I happen to be Irish, so growing up, I’ve always watched Notre Dame,” says Killelea, who got to see former New Canaan and Notre Dame player Connor Hanratty play in South Bend, Yankee Stadium and at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.

Killelea has no doubt Pyne made the best choice.

“If there’s a school he belongs at, I think it’s Notre Dame,” he says. “The maturity, the responsibility, but also the grit, the fire, the competitiveness.

“He just went to Ireland last year, so he’s got the Irish spirit in there. Last year on St. Patrick’s Day, he was singing some Irish songs in class. I think he’s going to be a great fit there. I know he’s very, very, very excited about it.”

Killelea admits he was “pumped” when Pyne picked the Irish.

“Obviously, that’s his call, but as a teacher, in the grand scheme of things, if you have a degree from Notre Dame, I mean come on, you don’t get much better than that. I’m pretty sure it went into his thought process, getting a degree from Notre Dame is something special. I’m sure he thought long and hard about it and made the best decision for him.

“Plus, Notre Dame Football is pretty sweet.”

 

 
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