As news spread yesterday that 5-star class of 2024 quarterback CJ Carr was trending towards Notre Dame with a Thursday commitment data announced, Notre Dame fans jubilation over potentially adding Carr led to questions on what it would for 2023 QB recruiting. Specifically, does the potential addition of an elite 2024 quarterback later this week mean that Notre Dame is out of the running for 5-star quarterback Dante Moore – a prospect they’ve been all on for months?
To be clear, I don’t have any inside information on this at all at the moment, so this column isn’t based on rumors or sources or anything like that. Instead, it’s based on following college football recruiting for 20 years and following the signs that are all pointing in the wrong direction for Notre Dame in the recruitment of Moore.
For starters, momentum for Moore to Notre Dame had died down considerably since the early spring when at one point, it felt like a commitment could be imminent. Moore and his family made an unofficial trip to Notre Dame that some felt would end his recruitment with Notre Dame victorious. The visit happened, but obviously, the commitment never followed.
Then there was speculation for a while that a June visit to Notre Dame for Moore was likely, and maybe it would end then. It’s June 7, and no visit is locked in for Moore to see Notre Dame again. Moore did officially visit both Oregon and LSU in the spring, however.
Now it seems like Moore’s recruitment could stretch into the fall. So for Notre Dame fans, the obvious questions now are:
- Did the staff push for a commitment from Carr because it felt they were fading for Moore?
- Does a potential commitment from Carr on Thursday eliminate Notre Dame for Moore?
We just don’t know where Notre Dame stands with Moore, but again, all signs point to a recruitment that isn’t necessarily going how Notre Dame had hoped it would when they put all of their eggs at quarterback for 2023 in Moore’s basket. Remember, Notre Dame backed off of Christopher Vizzina and Avery Johnson earlier this year and went all-in on Moore. For a while, it looked like that would pay off. Now, things are not nearly as optimistic for the Irish. The On3 predictor still lists Notre Dame in the pole position at 34%, but it doesn’t feel as if there is nearly as much confidence in Notre Dame’s chances.
If nothing else though, that March visit to Notre Dame did produce one of the coolest recruiting photo shoots we’ve seen in a while that kicked off a trend of schools creating their own thrones.
What if Notre Dame Misses Out on Dante Moore?
Let’s assume that CJ Carr does commit to Notre Dame on Thursday, and Moore does eliminate Notre Dame. Neither of these has happened yet, and there’s no guarantee that even if Carr commits on Thursday, it will impact Moore at all. Moore is a 5-star quarterback who would still have a year head start on Carr if he committed to Notre Dame. But again, let’s assume that happens for the sake of this almost worst-case scenario look.
If Notre Dame does not land Moore for 2023, quarterback recruiting would very likely be a big miss for the Irish, and the hopes for a top-5 class go out the window. It’s possible that Notre Dame would kick the tires on an uncommitted prospect like Avery Johnson, but if you’re a top-200 recruit who saw how this all played out, would you jump if Notre Dame finally made a push? Anything is possible, but 20 years of following recruiting suggests that such a scenario is unlikely for Notre Dame.
Notre Dame could look to push for a late-rising quarterback with some upside, but is locking up a scholarship for the next four years on a development prospect the best roster management? Not unless they identify one who they feel really good about.
There is always the transfer portal, but if we also assume that Tyler Buchner is as good as Notre Dame expects him to be, the quarterback position is set for at least the next two years, making Notre Dame a less than attractive transfer destination at quarterback.
The good news is that a potential Carr commitment makes potentially missing on Moore a whole lot more palatable than missing on Moore without a 2024 5-star locked up would have been. If Carr is committed for 2024 and Buchner develops into the quarterback he has the potential to be, the most significant concerns on missing out on a quarterback in 2023 are the third-string spot in 2023 and the perfect-world scenario of Buchner blowing up in 2023 and 2024 and leaving Notre Dame early.
Impact on 2023 Notre Dame QB Depth Chart
Without a quarterback in 2023, Notre Dame is looking at a potential depth chart in 2023 of 1. Buchner 2. Steve Angeli and 3. Ron Powlus III assuming Drew Pyne looks for a chance to start somewhere in 2024 if he’s unable to wrestle the position away from Buchner. I know, I know, more assumptions, but with the college football landscape what it is, it seems logical that a senior quarterback with a degree in hand might want a chance to start somewhere on their own.
Impact Beyond 2023 if Tyler Buchner is the real deal
The other potential significant fallout from a miss at quarterback in 2023 is a scenario in which Notre Dame enters 2024 with Angeli and a then-freshman CJ Carr as the top two quarterbacks if Buchner explodes the next two years and were to leave early. That might be a stretch to think about for a quarterback who hasn’t started a game yet, but if Buchner has two strong seasons as the starting quarterback at Notre Dame, that would be an option for him.
A CJ Carr Commit Mitigates a ‘23 QB Whiff
Add all of this up, and it’s easy to conclude that adding a quarterback like Carr for 2024 now really mitigates any fallout from swinging and missing on Dante Moore in this cycle. Of course, it would be unfortunate because of all the optimism and momentum in this class. Still, if the biggest concerns are the third-string quarterback one year and a potential scenario where the current starter turns out to be so good that they leave early, well, then you’re having some good problems to have.
Now, the one big x-factor in all of this is the health of Tyler Buchner. He had two major knee injuries in high school and was banged up at times last year. And then he missed the spring game – although reports were he was healthy enough to play if it were a real game. Still, Buchner’s had injury problems in the past, and his style of play could make him susceptible to future injuries.
Notre Dame would have locked up Moore months ago in an absolutely perfect world, and we’d be talking now about the potential of 5-star quarterbacks in back-to-back classes. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen though it still very much could. I want to stress again that we just don’t know where Notre Dame is at with Moore at the moment, and his recruitment has been odd enough that we might not until he makes an official announcement at some point in the future. Even if it doesn’t, though, if Notre Dame can secure a commitment from the highest-rated quarterback since Jimmy Clausen on Thursday, the future still looks very bright in the quarterback room at Notre Dame.