Inside Look At Jack Coan Transferring To Notre Dame: ‘It Came Full Circle’
When Notre Dame started showing interest, it became pretty clear to Jack Coan where he wanted to be.
The 6-3, 221-pound quarterback from Wisconsin entered the transfer portal on Dec. 20 after four years with the Badgers. Notre Dame wasn’t the only school that showed interest in Coan, but when it came down to decision time he ended up with the school he had a strong prior relationship with.
“When Jack went into the portal, it attracted some attention,” said Rob Hoss, Coan’s former high school head coach at Sayville (N.Y.) High. “Notre Dame is a school that he was originally committed to play lacrosse for. There was a ton of interest in Notre Dame for Jack before football really popped for him, but things didn’t work out of high school for him to go to Notre Dame.
“During conversations with Jack and what we were looking at in a school, his goals and who could coach him up to possibility get to the next level, we felt that Notre Dame had so much to offer. In addition, it’s the school he was originally committed to as a 10th grader. It was just like it came full circle.”
Coan suffered a right foot injury during a fall camp practice Oct. 3 and had successful surgery four days later. He was available to play in the Badgers’ final two games of the 2020 season, but the Wisconsin staff opted to stick with their quarterback of the future — Graham Mertz — to ride out the season.
In starting all 14 games for Wisconsin in 2019, Coan completed 236 of 339 attempts for 2,727 yards with 18 touchdowns and five interceptions. He also added four rushing scores.
Per Pro Football Focus, Coan was at his best in 2019 when throwing between the numbers in the 10- to 20-yard range, completing 16 of 25 passes for 328 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. He also excelled throwing to the outside right past 20 yards, completing 8 of 11 passes for 243 yards with four scores and one pick.
“He’s super intelligent,” Hoss added. “You see that at Wisconsin; the coaches there will tell you that he processes information quickly and can command an offense. He knows what the defense is doing, will get you into good situations and won’t turn the ball over.
“Those are his best attributes. He’s a kid who will make the right throw. He’s not going to force things and put your defense in a bad position. If he needs to make the big throw downfield, he’ll make that throw.”
With Ian Book taking his talents to the NFL, the Irish looked to add a more experienced quarterback to its very inexperienced room. The Irish had some contact with Coan between the time he entered the portal and when Notre Dame faced Alabama in the College Football Playoff semifinals Jan. 1, but in the couple of days after the Irish’s loss more contact occurred between the two parties.
“Things picked up after the season ended,” Hoss explained. “Conversations were pretty consistent. He was far along with some other schools, but he wanted to be patient and try to figure out what was best for him.
“You don’t have a second chance at a last year, so you want to make sure it’s a fit for both schools. It just worked.”
“Communication progressed between them and us, and Coach [Tommy] Rees and Jack had multiple conversations. It just fit. It was a place where Jack really wanted to be. It feels like he’ll fit that locker room culture.”
It’s plausible to assume that Coan will be Notre Dame’s starting quarterback when the Irish hit the road on Sept. 5 to face Florida State to open the 2021 season — and also when Brian Kelly’s squad faces Coan’s old Wisconsin team in Soldier Field Sept. 25. Coan has 18 starts under his built, and the four other Irish scholarship quarterbacks combine for zero.
Coan has one year of eligibility and will arrive at Notre Dame in a few weeks for the spring semester. There was not guarantee given that Coan will start for the Irish, which is how he prefers it.
“Jack’s mentality is that he’s going into compete for the job,” Hoss said. “There’s no expectation that anything will be handed to him. I don’t think he’d want it that way. He’s a kid who believes that everything in life is earned — nothing is given.
“There’s no question that the experience is light [at quarterback for Notre Dame], but that doesn’t mean that there’s not great players there. Jack is ready to go in and compete. That’s his mindset. He does have 18 starts in the Big Ten and has played in the Rose Bowl.
“His high and his low — you don’t know the difference between them. You don’t rattle him. He just continues to work. I know Notre Dame is a huge program with a ton of expectations, and the expectation he’ll put on himself will be greater than what anyone can put on him.”
It seems the Irish are getting a total football junkie in Coan, which is a good thing, considering he’s coming into a brand-new system.
“As soon as he gets there, I’d assume he’ll be getting in touch with the wide receivers to get on the field and learn how they run their routes and concepts,” Hoss noted. “He won’t ‘go out’ other than hanging out with the team. There’s no social life for him; he’s going to eat, breath and sleep football.
“He’ll probably be at the facility as much — if not more — than the staff because he’ll want to learn the offense as quick as he can to get himself the best opportunity to play. He’ll be a great teammate and he’s always been that way.”
When Coan announced his intentions to transfer to Notre Dame on Jan. 4, he did so on Twitter. His most recent previous tweet before that was back on June 14, 2017. Coan is all about football.
“Jack is a very serious kid,” Hoss said. “He’s extremely driven; he’s football 24/7.He’s not about hype. He’s tough to nail down for a reporter because he’s really just about his teammates, working his butt off and doing things the right way.”
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