Sophomore quarterback Phil Jurkovec liked Notre Dame even before the Irish offered last November.
Now he’s learning just how mutual that interest is.
On Tuesday, Notre Dame offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mike Sanford attended Jurkovec’s basketball game. A coach from Michigan State also was in attendance.
“It was fun,” said Jurkovec, a 6-foot-5, 190-pounder from Pine-Richland High School in Gibsonia, Pa. “It was exciting. I just wanted to go out there and play hard and let them see what I have.”
Pine-Richland defeated North Allegheny, 62-53, in large part due to Jurkovec’s defensive effort. At halftime he volunteered to guard North Allegheny’s Curtis Aiken, the son of the former Pittsburgh Panther of the same name and who holds several big time college scholarship offers, who had scored 18 first half points.
Aiken scored just two points in the second half and was held scoreless in the fourth quarter as Pine-Richland pulled away.
“It went pretty good,” Jurkovec said. “We started off the game slow in the first half but in the second half we were able to D up and in the second half we ended up winning it.”
Jurkovec finished with 15 points, seven rebounds, three steals and one block.
Before the game Jurkovec landed an offer from Ohio State after talking with defensive coordinator Luke Fickell. On Monday, Tennessee offered through offensive line coach Don Mahoney.
NCAA rules prohibited Jurkovec from speaking with Sanford on Tuesday night, but the Irish coach’s presence was noted. Sanford also attended one of Jurkovec’s football games during the season, the night before Notre Dame played at Pittsburgh.
“Coach Sanford has been to the school multiple times,” Jurkovec said. “It’s exciting to see that he’s truly interested. It really shows something, how they’ve been coming to school. He was in California a couple days before then he was over at school the one day. It’s exciting and it just shows that they’re interested. It means a lot.”
Jurkovec visited Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Penn State during the fall and hopes to get out to see several more schools this spring and summer. He was invited to attend Junior Day at Notre Dame this weekend but has a basketball game and won’t make the trip.
He also has begun the process of identifying the one school that stands out above the rest, even though he doesn’t know when he’ll commit.
“I’ve thought about it a little bit but I’m really not sure now,” he said. “I just want to go and see everywhere and meet with the coaches before I really start to narrow it down. It is true that quarterbacks usually commit first and from the quarterbacks committing it means they can recruit more kids to the team but I haven’t really made my decision on when or what time would be the best to commit.”
As a sophomore, Jurkovec completed 176-of-264 passes (67-percent) for 2,560 yards with 20 touchdowns and four interceptions while leading the Rams to a 10-2 record. He also rushed for a team-high 1,250 yards and 11 scores. He averaged over nine yards per rush.
“I’m just setting my goals higher for the next two seasons,” he said. “I just want to get in the gym and work hard and get on the field and start working with everyone when we get a chance this spring and summer.”