Projecting a Line of Succession at QB

If Kizer wins the job, what happens to Zaire in ’17? Will Book’s all-around game hold off Davis’ explosiveness? Does Jurkovec’s upside move him past Book and Davis?

With the verbal commitment earlier this week from high school-junior-to-be Phil Jurkovec (Gibsonia, Pa.), Notre Dame has an enviable line of succession at the quarterback position that conceivably could carry them through the 2022 season.

How long is that? If Brian Kelly were to remain as the head coach at Notre Dame through Jurkovec’s fifth year in the program, Kelly would be in his 13th season, offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley would be a seven-year NFL veteran, and Notre Dame would have a nine-year affiliation with the Atlantic Coast Conference.

As difficult as all of that is to imagine, so too is an unbroken chain of quarterbacks that currently number a total of six – three already in the program (DeShone Kizer, Malik Zaire, Brandon Wimbush), one that’s less than a month from arrival (Ian Book), another that’s less than 13 months from arrival (Avery Davis) and Jurkovec. (Note: Montgomery VanGorder, currently on scholarship, will be a junior this fall.)

Unlike any other position on the football field, however, building and maintaining depth at quarterback is very difficult. While some programs dare to use two quarterbacks as a luxury, history shows signalcallers often look for an escape route when the signs indicate they will not earn the starting nod/the bulk of the snaps.

The odds of all six of the above-mentioned quarterbacks remaining at Notre Dame throughout their years of eligibility is extremely slim. Quarterbacks want to play, and since the game mandates the use of just one football at a time, the need to get on the field often supersedes college allegiance.

And so, as we look forward, here’s a recap of how things could unfold for Notre Dame at the quarterback position with the players’ years of eligibility entering that season.

2016
Quarterbacks: Kizer (3), Zaire (2), Wimbush (3), Book (4)
Projected Starter: Kizer
Position Projection: Zaire enters the season as Kizer’s backup. The goal is to preserve a year of Wimbush’s eligibility after mop-up duty in ’15 forced him to expend a year. Book gets reps in game-competition to assist in dispersing the quarterback eligibility.

2017
Quarterbacks: Kizer (2), Wimbush (3), Book (3), Davis (4)
Projected Starter: Kizer
Position Projection: Zaire chooses to use his fifth and final year of eligibility in ’17 elsewhere. Wimbush moves into the No. 2 slot and begins preparation to become Kizer’s successor. Book and Davis jockey for position behind Wimbush with Davis preserving a year of eligibility.

2018
Quarterbacks: Wimbush (2), Book (2), Davis (4), Jurkovec (4)
Projected Starter: Wimbush
Position Projection: Kizer, after earning his undergraduate degree and with a third straight season of productivity under his belt, enters the NFL draft with a year of eligibility remaining. Wimbush begins a two-year run as the starting quarterback. Book holds off Davis for the No. 2 spot on the depth chart by virtue of his passing efficiency. Jurkovec preserves a year of eligibility.

2019
Quarterbacks: Wimbush (1), Book (1), Davis (3), Jurkovec (4), 2019 QB (4)
Projected Starter: Wimbush
Position Projection: Wimbush completes two-year run as the starting quarterback. Book uses his final year of eligibility as well. The competition for the job between Davis and Jurkovec is thrown wide open for the spring of ’20.

2020
Quarterbacks: Davis (2), Jurkovec (3), 2019 QB (4), 2020 QB (4)
Projected Starter: Jurkovec
Position Projection: With Wimbush out of eligibility, the most talented of the signalcallers – Jurkovec – emerges as the frontrunner heading into the fall.

2021
Quarterbacks: Jurkovec (2), 2019 QB (3), 2020 QB (3), 2021 QB (4)
Projected Starter: Jurkovec
Position Projection: Davis earns his undergraduate degree and uses his fifth year of eligibility elsewhere. Jurkovec completes his second season as a starter and leaves for the NFL.

2022
Quarterbacks: 2019 QB (2), 2020 QB (2), 2021 QB (3), 2022 QB (4)
Projected Starter: 2019 QB
Position Projection: All current quarterbacks within or with ties to the program in ’16 are gone.


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