The first commitment of the 2020 recruiting class came almost a year ago, from then sophomore quarterback Drew Pyne, out of New Canaan, Connecticut. That commitment has fallen under the radar a bit, as is often the case when a player commits from two cycles away. The same is somewhat true of Tyler Buchner, the quarterback from the 2021 class who just committed to the Irish. It’s hard to get excited about a player who won’t be on campus for another two seasons.
Pyne popped back into the news recently for unfortunate reasons; he and his fellow 2020 commits took a pretty big hit in 247’s in house rankings, and therefore their composite rankings also took a dip. Just looking back, Pyne has seen his rankings fluctuate quite a bit from a composite perspective.
February of 2018, he was ranked 74th nationally. On his commitment date, in April of 2018, he had fallen down to 221. By August of the same year, he had risen all the way to 102nd. He finished his junior season, where he threw for 2,600 yards on 65% passing, 30 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, ranked 105th. From early December 2018, to February 2019, 247 bumped him down to a three star prospect, and he sits firmly as a four star by composite ranking at 157th nationally.
It was all this fluctuation that got us thinking about what kind of player Notre Dame was getting at quarterback, regardless of his ranking. After watching his highlight tape about 10 times, I think it’s safe to say Notre Dame fans, and the skill players who could join him in this class, should be pretty fired up.
Drew Pyne, The Player
Measureables: 6-1, 190
40 time: 4.70
Whenever watching a tape, it’s natural to try and make a comparison to former player for reference. He reminds me of “x” player, makes things easier. For whatever reason I prefer it’s someone from years ago, just because comparing to a current player seems too easy. But, I’ll be darned if Pyne doesn’t remind me of Ian Book, with a little less athleticism.
Pyne is an extremely confident player, who is not afraid to make the tough throw or to fit the ball into tight spaces. For example, there is this laser beam over the middle with the safety breaking and the corner closing. This throw is probably ill advised, but Pyne thought he could fit it in and he was not wrong. He routinely is pushing the envelope with where he puts the ball. Luckily, he’s a very accurate passer, so he can very often put the ball exactly where it needs to be.
He hit on a number of deep throws where he gets the ball over the defense and in stride to a streaking receiver, as seen in this clip. This is an area where he separates himself from Book, he shows tremendous touch getting the ball down field and not only giving his receivers a chance, but allowing for run after the catch. (Should note that all of the clips embedded so far are from his freshman season. The kid is good.)
He often scrambles to throw and is very adept at moving around the pocket and evading the rush. I say he’s slightly less athletic than Book in that I don’t see him as a guy who Notre Dame would use from a designed run stand point as Notre Dame has with Book. He’s a good scrambler, definitely more mobile than someone like Jimmy Clausen, but not really a runner, but he’ll pick up a first down or two with his legs for sure.
Pyne has a lot of RPO principals in his high school offense, and is very good at reading the defense while faking the hand off to a running back, which should help him immensely when transitioning to Notre Dame. When he pulls the ball and pulls the trigger, the ball comes out lightening quick and with accuracy. He’s in full command doing this.
Embedded below are his junior season highlights and I would draw your attention to the clip at about 2:52, which is an out of this world, falling back with a defender in his face, post route that is perfectly in stride. Pyne doesn’t even see this pass completed, and it doesn’t even look like he’s looking when he throws it. It’s a top of the sport type of play.
Ranking: #157 overall, #7 pro-style quarterback
As for the drop in his rankings, I don’t know what to make of it, except that he’s a 6-1 pro-style player without a huge arm, at least by appearances. So he doesn’t really fit the profile of a highly rated recruit without the big arm and elite running ability. Generally speaking, you need at least one of those things. Jurkovec for example is about the same as Pyne, but he’s 6-5. Fits the profile of a top 100 player.
That being said, Pyne is good enough to play himself back in the top 100, if that means something to you. He’s been the starting quarterback for his high school since his freshman season, and he doesn’t play for a running school. He’s been the focus of the offense from the get go. I could see him following a similar trajectory as Graham Mertz who ended up at Wisconsin last year, who was ranked in the 300’s at this time last year and ended up at 65. And if you have any doubts about his ability, Oklahoma, who only has Heisman trophy winners playing quarterback for them, offered him a scholarship.