Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Jurkovec Wants To Win Big Games On A Big Stage

January 6, 2019
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Notre Dame freshman quarterback Phil Jurkovec might not have played in the Cotton Bowl, but he was inside AT&T Stadium and got the full experience of the College Football Playoff.

The 6-foot-5, 220-pounder will get his shot at some point to call plays for Notre Dame and his goal is to play multiple games on the big stage. 

“This is why you come to Notre Dame,” stated Jurkovec. “You want to play in these types of games. In the years ahead, these are the games the young guys and I want to be playing in and winning.”

Jurkovec put up mind-blowing stats at Pine-Richland (Pa.) during his three-year varsity career as the starting quarterback. In just 34 games, Jurkovec threw for 8,202 yards, 71 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions, while he added 2,942 rushing yards and 43 more scores. 

It wasn’t easy going from the man to redshirting, but it didn’t stop him from learning and competing. 

“It’s hard not playing, but I’m never going to stop competing,” explained Jurkovec. “I’m always going to keep testing the defense and competing with Ian. I’m going to try my hardest to get on the field somehow.

“I’m always going to be supportive, but we’re all gunning for a starting spot.”

The NCAA did change its rules and allowed players to get action in four games without losing a year of eligibility and Jurkovec appeared in two games in 2018. 

It wasn’t much action as the Irish were up big, but Jurkovec was grateful for the chance to get his feet wet. 

“I got a couple reps,” laughed Jurkovec. “All it took was one rep, but I was just so excited to be out there and to be on the field. It was great to be able to experience. It wasn’t much, but I got to see what it was like to go against a live defense on the field.”

As he heads into the spring, the Pennsylvania native will continue to work on his throwing motion. Jurkovec admitted he’s at his best when he’s not thinking about it and just playing ball. 

“I’m looking to get more over the top and throwing a more accurate and consistent ball,” Jurkovec said. “I always have to keep tuning up my form. Whenever I stop thinking about my form and just go out there and play, I think that’s when I’m the best.” 

Tom Rees will be in charge of developing Jurkovec’s game to take over for Ian Book and the freshman signal-caller has all the faith in the world in his position coach. 

“He’s a brilliant mind,” Jurkovec stated. “He’s so good tactically and being able to break down defenses. He’s been a huge part of our success and you can see with his award, he’s totally deserving of the best QB coach in the country.

“He’s wholeheartedly devoted to football, which as a positional coach, you need that.”

Jurkovec soaked in as much knowledge as he could this fall and perhaps the most significant lesson came from watching how Brandon Wimbush and Book interacted with each other. 

“The strongest test of character is if you can remain yourself through the ups and downs, the success and failures,” explained Jurkovec. “I was able to see them playing and not playing. They remained the same guys and that says a lot of about their character.” 

The move from Wimbush to Book in the middle of the year opened many eyes, including Jurkovec’s.

“They will play the best guy, so whoever it is, that’s why you’re never out of the fight,” Jurkovec said. “You have to keep working. Ian has had such a great year and he’s had so much success. It’s all credit to him and how hard he works. 

“He didn’t change at all. He’s so consistent in his work ethic and how he prepares by watching film and working out. It’s all the same. Through the success, he hasn’t changed and he’s not going to stop his work ethic.” 

 
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