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Monday, March 4, 2024
The Observer

Tyler Buchner enters the transfer portal

Irish quarterback Tyler Buchner gallops into the endzone for a touchdown during Notre Dame’s victory over South Carolina in the Gator Bowl Friday night. Ryan Vigilante | The Observer
Irish quarterback Tyler Buchner gallops into the endzone for a touchdown during Notre Dame’s victory over South Carolina in the Gator Bowl in December 2022.

The transfer portal has played a major role in Notre Dame athletics lately. The men’s basketball team lost Cormac Ryan to North Carolina through it. Lorenzo Styles, one of Notre Dame’s most exciting receiver prospects a year ago, entered the portal just over 24 hours before the Blue-Gold game. Prince Kollie did the same shortly after the game. But with just days remaining to enter the portal and still be eligible for next season, it seemed like the Irish would dodge any additional bullets.

Those hopes were dashed in about the most thunderous fashion possible early Tuesday afternoon. The biggest Irish name to date entered the portal: junior quarterback Tyler Buchner, as first reported by ESPN’s Pete Thamel.

If Styles’ drop-off was fast, Buchner’s fall practically came at the speed of light. After all, Buchner entered last fall as not just Notre Dame’s starting quarterback, but with the chance to be the face of the program. The former four-star recruit showed promise in a limited role as a freshman and was highly touted entering last fall. Injuries derailed Buchner’s year, as he picked up an injury late in Notre Dame’s second game of the season, ending his regular season. Buchner showed both sloppiness and signs of why he was so highly touted when he returned in the Gator Bowl. He went 18-33 for 273 yards and three touchdowns, but did throw three picks as well.

“I love Notre Dame,” Buchner said in a statement he put out on Twitter. “The people, and especially my teammates, are what makes this place special to me. I have decided to enter the transfer portal in order to explore my options, and decide what is best for my future.”

Interestingly, Buchner explicitly stated he is not ruling out staying in South Bend. And there is precedent for this happening. Sophomore pitcher Jack Findlay entered the portal last summer after a stellar freshman season and the departure of head coach Link Jarrett to fellow ACC foe Florida State. However, Findlay ultimately chose to stay with the Irish.

That being said, the path to playing time is murky at best for Buchner in Notre Dame going forward. Graduate student Sam Hartman outclassed Buchner in Saturday’s Blue-Gold game. And even if he hadn’t, the Wake Forest transfer has been the heavy favorite to be Notre Dame’s starting quarterback since his arrival despite head coach Marcus Freeman’s instance that the quarterback battle would last through the summer. Obviously, if Buchner leaves, that would no longer be the case. The Irish also have several other promising talents such as sophomore Steve Angeli, freshman Kenny Minchey and 2024 recruit CJ Carr on the horizon.

Still, losing Buchner would be a big blow to Notre Dame’s quarterback depth. No quarterback on Notre Dame’s roster other than Hartman has ever thrown a pass in a collegiate game. In two seasons with the Irish, Buchner has played 13 games. He threw for 949 yards on 118 attempts at a 56.8% completion clip. He has thrown six touchdowns and eight interceptions. Buchner also adds value with his legs. He has run for 459 yards on 82 attempts for seven touchdowns. That mobility does naturally come with durability concerns, however. Buchner’s regular season-ending injury against Marshall came while he was on the run.

Thamel mentions Alabama, TCU and Stanford as potential landing spots for Buchner. Choosing the Crimson Tide would mean reuniting with former Irish and current Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Tommy Rees. Rees originally recruited Buchner to Notre Dame and worked with him the last two years before leaving for Alabama in February.