Notre Dame backup quarterback Phil Jurkovec will transfer to Boston College, according to multiple reports. Jurkovec visited the Eagles' campus earlier this week and new BC coach Jeff Hafley's NFL experience (he was an assistant coach in the league from 2012 to 2018) reportedly played a role in the quarterback's choice.
Jurkovec will likely apply for an NCAA waiver that would allow him to play right away. Most non-graduate transfers have to sit out a year at their new school before taking the field, but the NCAA has recently approved waivers for high-profile players, such as Ohio State's Justin Fields and Miami's Tate Martell. The entire process is extremely arbitrary. If Jurkovec's waiver request is not approved and he has to sit this season, he might still be on the Boston College roster in 2022, when the Eagles travel to South Bend for a matchup with the Irish. Boston College has won exactly seven games in five of the last seven seasons and went 6-7 in 2019.
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 almost certainly would have been the backup again next season if he had returned to South Bend.
The transfer leaves 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 was. 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. Pyne is enrolling early at Notre Dame, meaning he'll be at spring practice in March and could make an early push to be the backup (AKA the most popular player on the roster, which Jurkovec certainly was after the loss to Michigan this season). 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.
There will always be an air of "what could have been" about Jurkovec's time at Notre Dame. He came in with so much hype and he never got a chance in a game to show what he could do. There were loud calls for him to replace Book as the starter after the 45-14 loss to the Wolverines, in which Book completed just 8 of 25 passes for 73 yards. Kelly, who made similar move midseason quarterback switch in 2018, decided to stick with the veteran and Book delivered, throwing 19 touchdowns and just four interceptions over the last six games of the season, all of which the Irish won. Could Jurkovec have exceeded that production in his first taste as the starter? I doubt it personally, but it's at least possible. In the end, it was always unlikely that Book and Jurkovec would both be on the roster in 2020. Book stayed, so Jurkovec probably felt it was time for him to go. Now, unless either Pyne or Clark really impresses in practice next season, the Irish will probably need some reinforcements at quarterback heading into 2021.