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The Phil Jurkovec Story: From NFL QB Prospect to Backup Tight End

Written by Connor D'Aquila ⏐ Writer ⏐ Twitter:@ConnorDaquilaIT

Photo via Darron Cummings | AP


A familiar face made his return to Notre Dame Stadium this weekend. For the second straight year, Phil Jurkovec was back in South Bend with a new team. Last year, the then Boston College quarterback was injured for the game, and this year, he didn't see any action. Following week five, Jurkovec was benched in favor of Christian Veilleux, and it was certainly deserved. Through five weeks, he had totaled just 818 yards on 50.9% completion for six touchdowns and three interceptions. Last week, it was reported that Phil had begun working out with tight ends, though he didn't see any playing time. The once highly touted prospect has had some choice words for Notre Dame below, so below, I will break down the journey from ND to Pitt.





Notre Dame

Jurkovec came to Notre Dame with a lot of excitement surrounding him. A four-star prospect ranked number 83 nationally and the fourth-ranked dual-threat quarterback, ND fans were understandably excited. He also threw for almost 4,000 yards in his senior year of high school and possesses impressive size at 6-foot-5, 215 pounds. He was regarded as one of the best quarterback prospects to come out of Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, he came in with two talented throwers in front of him in junior Ian Book and senior Brandon Wimbush. The path to playing time would prove difficult for the young gun, and by the end of his redshirt freshman year, he had thrown only 16 passes for 212 yards. Not getting the playing time he expected, Phil made the decision to transfer. Since leaving, Jurkovec has expressed his discontent with his time in South Bend, citing complaints particularly with Coach Kelly, but also attacking the University as a whole.


Two comments made particular waves in the media. The first was his assertion that Kelly had lied to him and his parents. Speaking with Boston.com, he said he was not informed of key events affecting his position on the team, including Ian Book’s decision to stay with the program and offensive coordinator Chip Long’s status with the team. He also felt that coaches treated players badly and there was a general lack of experience on the staff. The second major incident came when he went on social media to criticize the morality of Notre Dame. His Instagram post prior to last November’s matchup included questions about the school’s adherence to its moral code and the fact that “I'm Shipping Up to Boston” is played before each game. He felt strongly that being founded by French immigrants, the school and its fans were engaging in cultural appropriation. No matter your thoughts on these statements, there is clearly some deep-seated bitterness.





Time at Boston College

Jurkovec’s three-year tenure at BC began very positively and immediately left some thinking the elite prospect would pan out. Completing 61% of passes for over 2,500 yards and 17 touchdowns to only five interceptions, the talent was on full display. He did get to face ND at home, but was ultimately outdueled by Book and Co. Given the raw tools, however, he was quickly thrust into NFL Draft discussions. His second year would begin with a 325-yard and three-touchdown campaign, but was immediately derailed by a wrist injury. Despite continued anticipation from BC fans and the broader college football world, he never regained that first year magic. The following season would be derailed by disappointing play and a knee injury, and although Phil had nothing but positive things to say about the Eagles, he was ready for another change.


Time at Pitt

The decision for the hometown kid to transfer to Pitt made a lot of sense once Jurkovec was in the portal. Not only was his former offensive coordinator with the Panthers, but their quarterback had also just announced his intention to transfer. Fans of the team were understandably excited, but the sixth-year quarterback’s time has not gone according to plan. By the second week of the season, fans in Acrisure Stadium poured boos on the team as the offense and Jurkovec struggled against a weak Cincinnati team. Phil called those fans “pathetic” after the game, but his struggles would not end there. The very next week, they would score only six points in the backyard brawl against West Virginia, and Jurkovec would contribute only 81 passing yards paired with three interceptions. The team would struggle to a 1-4 record entering a matchup with Louisville, and Coach Pat Narduzzi made the decision to bench his starter. Since then, they beat number 18 Louisville and had a tough four-point loss to Wake Forest.



Given his size and athleticism, we could very well see Jurkovec thrive at tight end and find his way back on the field. Just as likely, however, is the possibility that we never see him start a game again. His talent is undeniable, and his first season at BC was special, but since then we have not seen the potential pan out. The recent benching diminished the excitement of this “homecoming,” but nevertheless, it likely wouldn't have mattered as the Irish rolled the Panthers by 51 points.



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