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Notre Dame Football

Kelly assesses Irish QBs, praises Buchner's progress

April 10, 2021

Notre Dame's nearly to the mid-point of its 2021 spring camp, and when Brian Kelly was asked Saturday to assess the work specifically among the Fighting Irish's quarterbacks, Kelly immediately singled out heralded freshman Tyler Buchner.

“I think that from the quarterback standpoint, I think the guy if you want to say who's made the most progress, it's probably Tyler Buchner,” Kelly said Saturday during a post-practice Zoom with reporters. “Just because he hasn't played or had not played a lot when he got here.

“His motion is really fluid. He's throwing the ball very well. But he's learning a lot. He's got a lot to learn about our offensive structure, just the nuances.”

Despite Buchner's extended layoff from competitive football as California high schools did not play a fall season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kelly sees in Buchner a strong knowledge of the game and a high ceiling for the consensus four-star prospect.

“He knows football, he's very smart,” Kelly said. “Tremendously smart, by the way. I mean, you tell him something in a meeting and his recall is quite amazing.

“Just because you know it doesn't mean it happens naturally. He needs a lot of reps. He's made a lot of progress.”

Kelly also touched on the work of the two presumed top competitors for the quarterback spot, second-year player Drew Pyne and Wisconsin graduate-transfer Jack Coan.

“I think Drew's done very, very well,” Kelly said. “Jack has been what we thought, Tommy (Rees) and I, what we thought when we got him. Here's a guy that's played a lot of Big Ten football. Played in the Rose Bowl. Sees the field very well; stronger arm probably than I thought. And sees the field exceedingly well, especially from the pocket.

“He's a guy that stays in the pocket, hangs in there, throws the ball and delivers it. Manages himself extremely well. So we're really pleased with where we are and where we're moving with the quarterback position.”

Notre Dame has three weeks remaining in its spring camp, which concludes with the Blue-Gold Game on May 1 inside Notre Dame Stadium.


Part of Marcus Freeman's stamp on the Notre Dame defense was Freeman's aggressive recruiting approach – including designated help in that regard.

The Fighting Irish added Chad Bowden, the former director of recruiting at the University of Cincinnati, into an analyst role with a primary emphasis on casting the recruiting vision for the Notre Dame defense.

“Chad is an (defensive) analyst. We added offensive and defensive analysts, that are focused primarily in recruiting efforts,” Kelly said. “I guess the best way to put it is that they're offensive and defensive coordinators in recruiting. They get the whole staff together, coordinate the efforts in terms of recruiting. Making sure that they're touching base with recruits, daily. That's not a 9 to 5 job; that's late at night.

“So he's in touch with those defensive recruits in their time zone, if you will. He's built strong relationships with those defensive players and done a very good job.”


After raving about the Irish's front-7 on defense, Kelly also heaped praise upon third-year defensive back Cam Hart – a former standout wide receiver at Baltimore's Good Counsel High School.

Hart's defensive abilities are evolving to match his superlative frame; the 6-foot-2.5-inch, 207-pounder stands as the Irish's longest cover-corner and presents Notre Dame with the potential to have a bigger, more physical defensive back to match up against opponents' taller wideouts.

“He's really coming into his own,” Kelly said. “He's elite in terms of his length. He's got a really strong skill set. To play the corner with that kind of size and athletic ability, he's still learning.

“There's still parts of his game he's got to clean up. But as we sit here today, six practices in, he's making good progress at that position.”

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