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Notre Dame Football 2024 Outlook: Quarterbacks (1.0)

Notre Dame finished the 2023 football season with three-straight wins to go 10-3, wrapping with a dominating 40-8 win over Oregon State in the Sun Bowl.

A dominating defense remains largely intact as the page now turns to 2024 but what about the offense?

We will go position-by-position this January breaking down what is lost and who returns for the Fighting Irish in 2024 – and what it all means for the season to come.

Today we look at the quarterbacks as the Irish have to replace one of the most experienced signal callers in the history of college football.  Let’s take an initial look at how the quarterback situation shapes up entering 2024 – obviously this is all possible to change at a moment’s notice given the modern day transfer portal workings.

What's Gone?

Quinn Harris/Getty Images
Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Gone for Notre Dame is Sam Hartman who started all 12 regular season games in his one year in blue and gold.  Although you’ll have trouble finding many Notre Dame observers that feel Hartman lived up to expectations, he did still throw for 2,689 yards while completing 63.5% of his passes and tossing 24 touchdown passes.  His eight interceptions, including two at Clemson and three at Louisville proved costly, however.

Hartman departs after one season and makes way for another former ACC quarterback to lead the Irish in 2024.

QB4 - New Kid on the Block

USA TODAY SPORTS
USA TODAY SPORTS

There is a lot of excitement about the future of Notre Dame’s quarterbacks and incoming freshman CJ Carr is a big part of the reason.  Carr enrolled in late-December which allowed him to be a part of bowl practices and get his first taste of major college football (as a player anyway as his grandfather is former Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr).  He enters after being ranked by most outlets as a top-five to seven quarterback in the 2024 recruiting cycle.

It’s not likely that Carr sees the field aside from mop-up duty in 2024 but for the first time in a while it appears the future at the position will be homegrown and Carr is a big reason why.

QB3 - Rising Sophomore

Watch: Notre Dame freshman connection during spring practice
USA TODAY SPORTS

Sophomore-to-be Kenny Minchey spent his true freshman season mostly holding a clipboard on fall Saturdays but did see some playing time in blowouts.  The question with Minchey is can he close the perceived gap with Steve Angeli and make his way into the second spot on the depth chart?  The one-time Pittsburgh commitment has a big off-season ahead as he tries to climb the ranks.

QB2 - Peanut Butter Angeli Time

Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports
Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Angeli was given the opporunity of a lifetime and made the most of it to close the 2023 season.  When Hartman opted out of the Sun Bowl that meant Angeli would get a full slate of bowl practices to prepare as a starter.  That led to him delivering in the game, completing 15 of 19 passes for 232-yards and three touchdowns.  It’s unfair to expect he has much of a case to be the starting considering what it takes to land a quarterback through the transfer portal, but Angeli’s performance in the Sun Bowl certainly makes Marcus Freeman and company feel better about depth at quarterback.

QB1 - Another Portal Product

Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports
Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

For the third time in four seasons Notre Dame will likely trot out a starting quarterback from the transfer portal.  This time its Riley Leonard, formerly of Duke.  Leonard spent the back half of last season injured but brings tremendous athleticism to the quarterback position.  He isn’t nearly as good throwing the deep ball as Hartman but his athleticism is significantly greater.  Leonard helped Duke to their highest ranking in years this past season previous to his injury and should provide a great canvas for new offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock to work with.

Summary

Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports
Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

In the world of the transfer portal its hard for me to believe that all four of these quarterbacks will be on the roster by the time fall camp starts but hey, stranger things have certainly happened.  Although I don’t like Leonard as much as a passer as Hartman, his athleticism is far greater and should blend very well with Denbrock who has helped develop greatness with dual-threats quarterbacks in recent years (Jaylen Daniels at LSU, Desmond Ridder at Cincinnati).  This should also help with an offensive line that will be largely reworked from 2023.

Beyond Leonard you can see the talent level and depth both increasing for Notre Dame at quarterback.  Who all stays remain to be seen but with 2025 commitment Deuce Knight already waiting in the wings the outlook for the Irish at quarterback solid for 2024, but the best it’s been in years looking ahead long term.

Story originally appeared on Fighting Irish Wire