Notre Dame quarterback Phil Jurkovec has placed his name in the transfer portal and is strongly considering departing from the program, according to multiple reports. It is not a certainty yet that he will transfer, but putting a name in the transfer portal is a good indicator that he is looking for other opportunities. It will be up to the Irish coaching staff to recruit him again over the coming days and weeks.
Jurkovec, a former four-star recruit in the 2018 class from Gibsonia, Pennsylvania, spent 2019 as Ian Book's backup, appearing in six games in mop-up duty and going 12 for 15 for 222 yards and two passing touchdowns. He also ran for 130 yards on 22 carries. Coming out of high school, he was ranked in the top 100 nationally, per 247sports.com and was the No. 4 dual-threat quarterback in the class. At the time he signed his letter of intent, coach Brian Kelly called him the best quarterback in the class.
After Notre Dame's Camping World Bowl victory over Iowa State, Book announced he would return for his final season of eligibility in 2020, which means that Jurkovec will almost certainly be the backup again next season if he returns to South Bend. Even if he departs, however, there is no guarantee he would get to play in 2020; to do so, the NCAA would have to approve a waiver of the rule that usually requires non-graduate transfers to sit a year before playing at their new school. The governing body has recently shown a willingness to approve those waivers for high-profile quarterbacks (Justin Fields comes to mind), but the decision-making is extremely arbitrary.
If Jurkovec does leave, it would be a blow to a quarterbacks room that had been brimming with talent. Jurkovec flashed plenty of ability during his limited playing time in 2019, showing off a big arm and a knack for making plays with his legs. He was not good in training camp before the season began and that has affected my perception of him since, but he clearly improved as the season went on and his physical tools have always been outstanding (even if his throwing motion is more than a little unorthodox).
A Jurkovec transfer would leave redshirt freshman Brendon Clark, a three-star recruit in the 2019 class, as the presumptive backup to Book. Clark was the No. 21 pro-style quarterback in his class, per 247, and completed 1 of 2 passes for 21 yards and a touchdown in 2019. He doesn't have a particularly strong arm, however, and is even more untested than Jurkovec. The other option at quarterback would be true freshman Drew Pyne, a four-star recruit in the Book mold: undersized but extremely accurate and with enough athleticism to make things happen when the play breaks down. Of course, Book is the starter, but Notre Dame has demonstrated in the recent past (with Book supplanting Brandon Wimbush in 2018) that the backup quarterback doesn't always remain so if QB1 doesn't perform up to expectations. If Jurkovec stays, he will be the likely starter in 2021, but will have to compete with Pyne and Clark and it's no sure thing that he'd win the job.