Why Alabama coach Nick Saban took in Notre Dame QB Tyler Buchner

On3 imageby:Tyler Horka04/27/23

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Just a couple hours before he watched his former quarterback, Bryce Young, become just the second No. 1 overall pick in Alabama history, head coach Nick Saban explained why earlier in the day former Notre Dame quarterback Tyler Buchner became Young’s potential successor.

Saban touched on the matter during ESPN’s College GameDay pre-draft coverage.

“We wanted to give our quarterbacks in our program every opportunity to win the job in spring practice,” Saban said. “We felt like we needed to add some competition in the room, and Tyler was certainly a guy that was going to be the starter last year at Notre Dame, got injured, played the bowl game, played very well.”

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This isn’t Saban’s first coup of Notre Dame personnel this offseason. He stole offensive coordinator and notable Fighting Irish football alum Tommy Rees away from South Bend in February. Rees, the coach primarily responsible for recruiting Buchner to Notre Dame, gets to team back up with his pupil.

Alabama quarterbacks Jalen Milroe and Ty Simpson didn’t impress in the Crimson Tide’s spring game. The former went 19-of-37 for 245 yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. The latter went 12-of-26 for 155 yards and 1 interception. Buchner was right there with them with spring game struggles. He went 8-of-18 for 44 yards with 1 interception.

Rees and Saban see him as the guy who earned MVP honors in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl and could have had an impressive junior season at Notre Dame had he not missed 10 games with a shoulder injury, though.

“We thought he would add a lot of competition,” Saban said, “and we think he’s got the right kind of character and attitude to be a positive influence on our team.”

Buchner has a lot to live up to. Saban is used to high-level quarterback play. Including Young, the last three Alabama starters have been first-round NFL Draft choices. Tua Tagovailoa went No. 5 overall to the Miami Dolphins in 2020. Mac Jones went No. 15 overall to the New England Patriots in 2021. Before entertaining the idea of a first-round selection in his future, Buchner must first get settled in Tuscaloosa and get ready for a quarterback competition that’ll likely last into fall camp.

Alabama opens the season with back-to-back home games vs. Middle Tennessee (Sept. 2) and Texas (Sept. 9).

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