Drew Pyne, the New Canaan quarterback who is considered by scouting services as one of the top prospects at his position in the class of 2020, announced today that he has given a verbal commitment to Notre Dame.
Pyne said his decision was sealed after he made his third visit last week, flying in Wednesday night and watching spring practice the following day.
“It really felt like home and like I never had before,” Pyne said. “The coaches there did a great job. It was such a great experience there and it felt like the right time so I didn’t want to carry it on any more and I pulled the trigger.”
In what turned out to be a historic day for the New Canaan program, the two linemen charged with protecting Pyne announced about two hours apart they too had made commitments.
Jack Conley, a 6-foot-7, 315-pound tackle who has also been compiling offers from top 20 programs, put out on Twitter that he will be attending Boston College. Before New Canaan had the chance to further revel in the day’s events, Jack Stewart, the Rams’ other tackle, announced he will be headed to Michigan. The news came just 10 days after the 6-5, 280-pound Stewart had been offered by the Wolverines, joining a long list of suitors.
Having one player headed to a major program would have been memorable.
“How cool is that?” said New Canaan coach Lou Marinelli. “We’ve had multiple kids before in the Patriot League, but nothing like this. This is a coach’s dream. They are wonderful kids, they work hard and they take pride in what they do to get to these type of programs. It’s surreal.”
Former Ram Zach Allen is entering his senior year at Boston College and has the potential to be a high draft choice in 2019. Two other New Canaan alums, offensive lineman Lucas Niang and quarterback Michael Collins, are at TCU. Other New Canaan graduates currently in the college ranks include Alex LaPolice at Harvard, Michael Root at Lafayette and another dozen at Division III schools.
Pyne had an estimated 30 FBS offers, and received several from top programs like Alabama and Florida State before taking his first snap for the Rams as a freshman.
Pyne attended Notre Dame’s regular season game last year against Georgia and then the Citrus Bowl victory over LSU. Pyne said he felt very comfortable with Tom Rees, the former Irish quarterback who now is the position coach for the team.
Pyne said he felt his future was set when he departed the campus last week. Pyne called Rees two days later but waited until today to publicly disclose his choice.
“I knew that day this was home,” Pyne said. “I told Coach Rees I’m going to sleep on it a day or two to make sure it’s the right decision. So I did and I called him on Saturday and I told him that I was committing. I just wanted to be as classy as possible and talk to the other coaches who recruited me and tell them before I announced it, so I announced it today.”
“They obviously play a national schedule,” Pyne added. “They’re on national television every week. They will play Ohio State and Wisconsin, which will be fun for me, and Coach Rees played there and he has experience as a Notre Dame quarterback so he’s a really good person to have as a quarterback coach and a mentor, and he runs a great offense. Obviously (head) coach (Brian) Kelley is really driven to win a national championship and the education there is world class. I think it’s a really good fit for me so I’m really excited about it.”
Pyne threw for 2,355 yards and 25 touchdowns and rushed for 273 yards and seven scores as a sophomore last season at New Canaan. The Rams finished 9-3. As a freshman he helped lead them to a 12-1 mark and state title, throwing for 2,347 yards and 26 touchdowns and rushing for 430 yards.
Pyne said he has never had a schedule about making his decision despite being so highly coveted.
“Whenever I thought was the right time I’d commit,” Pyne said. “I didn’t really have a timetable.
Pyne will be another of several New Canaan players to attend Notre Dame, including receiver Pete Demmerle and most recently offensive linemen Conor Hanratty, whose father Terry was a quarterback at the school.
Pyne said he is happy there will be no outside distractions as he concentrates on his final two seasons with the Rams.
“It will be very helpful and I’m very excited to focus in on one main goal now and that’s helping New Canaan to win a state title the next two years,” Pyne said. “That’s the only thing I am thinking about so I’m just really going to work hard to get better every day. It will help out New Canaan High School and it will help me to be in a good position to compete. Coach Marinelli has been unbelievable and all the coaches at New Canaan High School. I can’t thank them enough for all they’ve done for me.”
Marinelli tapped his customary sarcasm when asked what today meant for his program.
Said Marinelli, “If the coach doesn’t win next year I’d fire him.”