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Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame HC Marcus Freeman on Transfer Evaluations and Injury Update

December 29, 2022

Notre Dame hasn’t hidden from the fact the program is in the market for a transfer quarterback.

Marcus Freeman and Tommy Rees were straightforward with junior quarterback Drew Pyne about the program’s intention of looking for another arm in the Transfer Portal, which led to the Connecticut native leaving for Arizona State. 

On Thursday, Freeman made it clear once again the Irish were looking for a transfer quarterback, but also that Notre Dame is always looking to improve its roster in all avenues of recruiting. 

“It's something we do every day, we look at the portal, look at high school recruits,” stated Freeman. “We're always looking to enhance our roster. There is no timeline. It's all about fit. It's about making sure you find the right guy at any position, quarterback being one. We're looking at all positions.” 

Notre Dame has been linked to more than a few quarterbacks over the last month and Rees quietly spent December on the road evaluating quarterbacks in the Transfer Portal. 

Part of that evaluation is not only talent, but how each signal-caller would fit into the Notre Dame program. The blueprint is there with Jack Coan as it was almost an effortless transition when it came to fitting into the locker room, so Rees knows it’s possible to find the perfect match. 

“Again, it has to be the right fit,” explained Freeman. “They have to not just enhance our roster athletically but they have to fit into the Notre Dame locker room. That's something we'll continue to investigate.

“Recruiting is an everyday thing. It's an everyday thing that we have to do and we must do. I can't give you an answer for when that will happen. We're constantly looking and evaluating at all positions. Whenever we find the right guy.” 

In high school recruiting, Notre Dame’s staff will often have years to figure out if a prospect fits and wants what the program offers. When it comes to the Transfer Portal, a school might have days or weeks to figure out what type of impact that prospect would have on the program. 

“The recruiting game has changed in terms of at times you have to offer guys to even be able to recruit them,” Freeman explained. “That's the reality of it. Some guys don't want to talk to you unless you've offered them.

“In order to take a guy into our program, I'm going to have to meet with you face to face, have to make sure Zoom, whatever, we have a connection. There's so much that goes into a football player beyond what you just see on film. There's a lot of guys you can turn on film and say he's a good football player, or you can say he's not so good.

“When you meet somebody face-to-face, you get a chance to know them, ask them difficult questions, see how they respond, you get to say, ‘Let's figure out who this person is as a man.’”

The Irish landed a couple of transfers already this month highlighted by Virginia Tech receiver Kaleb Smith, who brings a wealth of experience to the table. 

When it comes to quarterback, Notre Dame will put an emphasis on experience as Tyler Buchner and Steve Angeli don’t have a ton of it heading into the offseason. 

“Extremely important,” said Freeman. “If you're looking for a guy to come in, we have a young group of quarterbacks, from Tyler being a sophomore. You have Steve, Ronnie, another freshman coming in. We have a young locker room. We're looking probably for a little bit more experience.” 

At the end of the day, experience and talent are important, but Freeman and his staff are still going to put a significant emphasis on how a player can adapt to Notre Dame’s culture. 

“You got to be careful with the people you bring into your locker room,” stated Freeman. “We're fortunate, we have a great group of captains, a great group of leadership that you really don't have an option when you come into our locker room. You're going to convert to the way these guys lead or say, ‘This isn't the place for me.’ That's really important.

“You have to be cautious on the type of personalities you bring into your locker room because I've seen it go both ways, one really good and one really bad.” 

Notre Dame knew it would take the field without Michael Mayer and Isaiah Foskey on Friday, but there will be another starter missing from the rotation. Fifth-year senior defensive lineman Jayson Ademilola will not be able to go due to injury and safety Brandon Joseph will be a game-time decision as he deals with a nagging ankle injury. 

“Jayson Ademilola won't play,” said Freeman. “He's the one that I don't think was out there. He won't be able to go due to injury. The rest, Brandon Joseph, he practiced all week, he'll be a game-time decision. We'll see how he feels. Jayson is the one we know for sure is out.” 

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