May 27, 2024

Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 10 Sam Hartman, Wake Forest graduate transfer quarterback, QB1

Listed measurements: 6-foot-1 ⅛, 210 pounds.
2023-24 year, eligibility: This will be Hartman’s sixth season of college football. But he played in only four games in 2019 (backing up Jamie Newman), preserving a year of eligibility, and obviously the 2020 season did not count toward this expiring clock.
Depth Chart: Hartman will start at quarterback for Notre Dame and, barring injury, will handle every competitive moment behind center for the Irish this season. He could throw four interceptions in a game (something he has done twice in his career), and if the game remained within reach, Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman would not consider sophomore Steve Angeli or freshman Kenny Minchey for even a moment.
Recruiting: Hartman’s transfer to South Bend was always too logical not to be considered. Hartman had long made it clear he expected his Wake Forest career to end in 2022, the broad assumption being he would head to the NFL. But the possibility of earning a six-figure Name, Image and Likeness check while playing elsewhere changed that math.

The fit at Notre Dame was obvious, enough so that this space was regularly checking in with Wake Forest reporters throughout November and December to see if something may be afoot. Then the day of the Demon Deacons’ Gasparilla Bowl appearance (and win) against Missouri, reports suggested Hartman had indeed decided to head to South Bend. The actual transfer took another two weeks, but no one else was considered from either side in that interim.

Thoroughly recapping five years of a prolific quarterback would take a while, so let’s rip through the bullet points.

Hartman stepped in as a freshman in 2018 after Jamie Newman was injured. Newman’s return then sent Hartman back to the bench in 2019. For the three years since, Hartman has been Wake Forest’s starting quarterback, missing a game only when he needed surgery to address a blood clot in the 2022 preseason.

To pull from that press release and not risk getting the medical aspect wrong: “Sam developed a blood clot in the subclavian vein. This condition is known as Paget-Schroetter Syndrome, or effort thrombosis. We suspect this occurred as a result of a previous infection that eventually caused inflammation.”

Initially, no timeline was given for Hatman’s return, but he missed only the season opener, throwing four touchdowns and no interceptions in a 45-25 win at Vanderbilt in week two.

2018: 9 games; 1,984 passing yards, 55.3 percent completion rate, 6.8 yards per pass attempt, 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
2019: 4 games; 830 passing yards, 56.7 percent completion rate, 8.6 yards per pass attempt, four touchdowns and two interceptions.
2020: 9 games; 2,224 passing yards, 58.2 percent completion rate, 8.1 yards per pass attempt, 13 touchdowns and five interceptions.
2021: 14 games; 4,228 passing yards, 58.9 percent completion rate, 8.3 yards per pass attempt, 39 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
2022: 12 games; 3,701 yards passing yards, 63.1 percent completion rate, 8.6 yards per pass attempt, 38 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

Anyone claiming they know how much Hartman pocketed in coming to Notre Dame via some version of an NIL deal is lying to you. No one knows but Hartman, his family and whoever wrote that check.

But, logically, it was good money.

“When the bowl game is over, if there is some incredible offer for him to go to another school and get life-changing money, how can we fault him for that,” Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson said in December, the first public acknowledgment that maybe the NFL wasn’t the smartest path forward for Hartman.

Who knows where Hartman would have been drafted, but most projections slotted him in the latter half of the draft. Quarterbacks went back-to-back at No. 139 and No. 140 overall, early in the fifth round. Per, the more lucrative of those two was guaranteed $350,624 and could make as much as $1.1 million this season. That kind of contract should still be available to Hartman in a year. Whatever he makes this season is an earlier influx into his career earnings; it does not take away from the future possibilities.

“Often I see people that are done with school or run out of eligibility or even have eligibility declare, that opportunity never comes again,” Hartman said in March. “The thing that makes football so special is you can’t just wake up one day and say I’m going to go play. There’s very few opportunities and the opportunities come and go very quickly.”

And if Hartman can take care of a hefty down payment on a home wherever he lands in the NFL while also doing things now to benefit the Michiana area, what is the downside?

Okay, yes, Hartman has plans of turning his removed rib into a necklace. The rib was removed in the surgery addressing that blood clot last summer. He has had this plan since then, but the rib is not yet on a necklace.

This is known. This is not news. And it’s not as weird as some may make it out to be. It is rather natural for anyone having a bone or bone fragment removed to then ask to keep it.

Hartman is looking at Notre Dame as an NFL audition. He will say the right things about the history and the chance to play a full season in front of Irish fans, but it is an NFL audition.

“On the NFL side of it, this is what you have to do when you go into the league: come into a new place where there’s not a lot of familiar faces,” he said in March. “The battle is definitely uphill. You have to come in and establish a leadership role while also trying to figure out and follow.”

“Hartman spent the last five seasons leading the Demon Deacons, setting an ACC record with 110 touchdown passes in his career, the final three of those coming in Wake Forest’s 27-17 victory against Missouri in the Gasparilla Bowl on Dec. 23. Hartman threw for 280 yards on 23-of-36 passing, leading the game-sealing drive in the final minutes. His transfer intentions first received public credibility the morning of that game.

“That game-winning drive alone may have illustrated why Notre Dame wants Hartman to take over a position that would otherwise likely once again land in the hands of current sophomore Tyler Buchner, unproven after a shoulder sprain cost him 10 games this season no matter how entertaining his Gator Bowl performance was.

“The Demon Deacons’ final drive with Hartman at the helm featured three chunk plays, all courtesy of the quarterback. He threw three passes, completing all three for 31 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown. He added a 15-yard run to get into the red zone, and he drew a roughing the passer penalty that gained 15 more yards earlier in the drive. All told, Hartman produced 61 of the 75 yards on the eight-play drive.

“Explosive scores were a norm behind Hartman. Wake Forest averaged 35.4 points per game this season with Hartman playing, missing the season opener due to a blood clot concern discovered in the preseason.”

Grant a quick premise here: Notre Dame’s offense under new offensive coordinator Gerad Parker, with aid from quarterbacks coach Gino Guidugli, should not be too different from what former Irish offensive coordinator Tommy Rees would have designed this season. The players would be the same no matter the coordinator, the broad strengths, the spots of worry.

In that regard, the offense could be somewhat familiar, made up of many of the same ingredients as the last few years. The receivers are better than last year’s collection but still not on par with the country’s best. The running backs look strong. The offensive line should be one of the best in the country. There are multiple tight ends that present tantalizing possibilities.

The difference will be the quarterback.

Hartman in 2021 and 2022 combined: 60.8 percent completion rate, 8.47 yards per attempt.
Drew Pyne in 2022: 64.6 percent completion rate, 7.96 yards per attempt.
Jack Coan in 2021: 65.5 percent completion rate, 8.16 yards per attempt.
Ian Book in 2019 and 2020 combined: 62.2 percent completion rate, 7.8 yards per attempt.
Ian Book in 2018: 68.2 percent completion rate, 8.37 yards per attempt.

There is the difference Hartman presents. Obviously, he completes a lower percentage of his passes, but he is still gaining more yards each time he drops back. Take that logic a step further and you realize, Hartman is pushing the ball downfield.

That could be the difference for Notre Dame this fall, and it has very much been the limiting piece of this revived era. The Irish have not been a quick-score threat.

Some of that has been the receivers underwhelming. But some of it has also been the quarterbacks’ raw abilities. Hartman has that raw ability, and it could change the entire look of Notre Dame’s offense for a season.

“A” season. Yes, Hartman will finish his collegiate career in 2023.

Pointing out that it began the same time as Phil Jurkovec undersells the longevity of Hartman’s career, given Jurkovec is also playing his sixth season in 2023, albeit for his third program. The difference between the two is that Jurkovec has thrown just 697 career passes and 37 career touchdowns, compared to Hartman’s 1,597 pass attempts and 110 career touchdowns.

He will end his collegiate career as one of the most experienced passers in NCAA history and, no matter the asterisk, one of the most prolific.

A 4,000-yard season would be an entertaining one and suggest big-picture possibilities for Notre Dame, but it would also catapult Hartman up to No. 3 all-time in career passing yards. Every one of those same thoughts can apply to 30 passing touchdowns.

The summer countdown begins anew, Rylie Mills to Deion Colzie
No. 99 Rylie Mills, senior defensive tackle, moving back inside from end
No. 98 Devan Houstan, early-enrolled four-star defensive tackle
No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, junior defensive tackle, one of three Irish DTs with notable experience
No. 95 Tyson Ford, sophomore defensive tackle, up 30 pounds from a year ago
No. 93 Armel Mukam, incoming freshman defensive end, former Stanford commit
No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, a senior defensive tackle now ‘fully healthy’ after a 2022 torn ACL
No. 91 Aiden Gobaira, sophomore defensive end, former four-star recruit
No. 88 Mitchell Evans, the next starter at ‘TE U
No. 87 Cooper Flanagan, incoming freshman tight end, four-star recruit
No. 84 Kevin Bauman, senior tight end coming off a torn ACL
No. 83 Jayden Thomas, junior receiver, probable No. 1 target in 2023
No. 79 Tosh Baker, senior tackle, again a backup but next year …
No. 78 Pat Coogan, junior interior offensive lineman
No. 77 Ty Chan, sophomore offensive tackle, former four-star recruit
No. 76 Joe Alt, first-team All-American left tackle
No. 75 Sullivan Absher, incoming freshman offensive lineman
No. 74 Billy Schrauth, sophomore left guard, likely starter
No. 73 Andrew Kristofic, fifth-year right guard, likely starter
No. 72 Sam Pendelton, early-enrolled freshman offensive lineman
No. 70 Ashton Craig, sophomore interior offensive lineman
No. 68 Michael Carmody, senior offensive lineman
No. 65 Michael Vinson, sixth-year long snapper, four-year starter
No. 64 Joe Otting, incoming freshman offensive lineman, four-star recruit
No. 59 Aamil Wagner, sophomore offensive tackle
No. 56 Charles Jagusah, incoming freshman offensive lineman, four-star recruit
No. 56 Howard Cross, fifth-year defensive tackle, multi-year starter
No. 55 Chris Terek, incoming freshman offensive lineman, four-star recruit
No. 54 Blake Fisher, junior right tackle, second-year starter
No. 52 Zeke Correll, fifth-year center, third-year starter
No. 51 Boubacar Traore, incoming freshman defensive end, four-star recruit
No. 50 Rocco Spindler, junior offensive guard
No. 47 Jason Onye, junior defensive tackle on the verge of playing time
No. 44 Junior Tuihalamaka, sophomore defensive end, former linebacker
No. 42 Nolan Ziegler, sophomore linebacker, Irish legacy
No. 41 Donovan Hinish, sophomore defensive tackle following in his brother’s footsteps
No. 40 Joshua Burnham, sophomore linebacker-turned-Vyper end
No. 38 Davis Sherwood, junior fullback/H-back, former walk-on
No. 34 Drayk Bowen, early-enrolled freshman linebacker, baseball infielder
No. 32 Spencer Shrader, South Florida transfer kicker
No. 31 Nana Osafo-Mensah, fifth-year defensive end
No. 29 Christian Gray, early-enrolled freshman cornerback coming off a knee injury
No. 29 Matt Salerno, sixth-year receiver, former walk-on
No. 27 JD Bertrand, fifth-year linebacker, third-year starter, possible captain
No. 25 Preston Zinter, early-enrolled freshman linebacker, subtle recruiting win
No. 24 Jack Kiser, fifth-year linebacker, third-year starter, most efficient defender
No. 24 Jadarian Price, sophomore RB, reportedly recovered from an Achilles injury
No. 23 Jaiden Ausberry, early-enrolled freshman linebacker, four-star recruit
No. 22 Ben Minich, early-enrolled freshman safety, four-star recruit
No. 22 Jeremiyah Love, incoming freshman running back, four-star recruit
No. 21 Adon Shuler, early-enrolled freshman safety coming off shoulder surgery
No. 20 Benjamin Morrison, sophomore cornerback, preseason All-American
No. 19 Jaden Greathouse, early-enrolled freshman receiver, Blue-Gold Game star
No. 18 Steve Angeli, sophomore quarterback, competing for the backup role
No. 18 Chance Tucker, junior cornerback
No. 17 Brenan Vernon, incoming freshman defensive end, four-star recruit
No. 17 Rico Flores Jr., early-enrolled freshman receiver, four-star recruit
No. 16 Micah Bell, incoming freshman cornerback, speedy four-star recruit
No. 15 Ryan Barnes, junior cornerback
No. 14 Bryce McFerson, sophomore punter facing a challenge for a second straight year
No. 14 Braylon James, early-enrolled freshman receiver, four-star recruit
No. 13 Holden Staes, sophomore tight end, up 20 pounds in a year
No. 13 Thomas Harper, Oklahoma State graduate transfer safety/nickel back
No. 12 Penn State RB transfer Devyn Ford gives Notre Dame newly-needed backfield depth, experience
No. 12 Jordan Botelho, senior Vyper defensive end
No. 11 KK Smith, incoming freshman receiver, speedster
No. 11 Ramon Henderson, senior safety
No. 4 Rhode Island transfer safety Antonio Carter gives Notre Dame desperately needed backline depth

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