Great Quarterbacks from Western Pennsylvania at one time appeared to grow on trees. Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas, Dan Marino, Joe Namath, George Blanda and the list goes on.
Montana attended Ringgold High School in Western Pennsyvlania. Joe Cool led the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to the national championship in 1977 and then the San Francisco 49ers to multiple Super Bowl championships. He played in 16 NFL seasons after being drafted in the 3rd round in 1979.
Unitas has been considered the best of all time by many for decades. Growing up in Pittsburgh and playing at St Justin’s High School, Unitas was lightly recruited. Louisville finally signed him and
Unitas was a 4 year starter there in spite of being greatly undersized. Unitas dreamed of playing for the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, but he was told he was too small. Unitas NFL career deserves more space and his story is the stuff of legends.
Marino was also a Pittsburgh native and he graduated from Central Catholic High School before electing to stay home and play for the Pitt Panthers. That was during the Panthers best time period soon after Tony Dorsett led them to a national championship. Panthers
Namath made a name for himself at Beaver Falls, before signing with the Alabama Crimson Tide and Bear Bryant. Namath predicted the New York Jets would beat the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III and then they did. Guaranteeing the win seems like not such a big deal now, but the Colts seemed unbeatable at the time.
If you are younger, you’ve probably never heard of George Blanda. The Youngwood native made a name for himself by leading his team from behind and he was also the team’s kicker. He also played 26 years in the NFL and retired at the age of 48.
In more recent times, another kid is making a name for himself in Western Pennsylvania named Phil Jurkovec from Pine-Richland High School in Gibsonia. ESPN has Jurkovec listed at 6-6, 202, while 247.com has him at 6-5, 190. 247.com has Jurkovec as their 10th best recruit in the entire country at the moment and that will mean a 5 star ranking for him. ESPN is tougher with their rankings and they have him ranked a 4 star.
It doesn’t really matter, the kid is a player. He is only the second Quarterback in Western Pennsylvania history to throw for over 2,000 yards and run for over 1,000 yards in a season. The first Quarterback to accomplish that was 4 year starter, Lenny Williams, from McKees Rocks’ Sto-Rox High School. Williams was a 3 star recruit that signed with Temple, but transferred to Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
There was a time when some thought that Joe Montana’s future was in basketball. Phil Jurkovec is like Montana in that he loves basketball about as much as he does playing Quarterback. But,
Jurkovec is also smart enough to know that 6-4 to 6-6 basketball players are a dime a dozen. While he knows he has more of a chance at becoming a great Quarterback in college and perhaps beyond.
However, rumor has it that Jurkovec is really good in basketball, too, with the ability to throw down some tremendous dunks. If you read my earlier post on Penn State’s Tight End, Mike Gesicki, he was another brilliant high school basketball player with great dunking ability. PSU TE
Phil Jurkovec is just too good of a prospect in football to pass up the opportunity. The colleges start early recruiting these guys in current times and Jurkovec started receiving offers after his freshman season of football. But, now, he has received offers from most of the big boys of college football and he has committed to play for Notre Dame.
Jurkovec is a smart kid with supposedly a 3.7 GPA and he is also supposedly a very hard worker. My favorite Mike Tyson quote is ‘everybody has a plan until they get hit in the mouth’. Jurkovec has not been hit in the mouth yet, but we do know he is an outstanding athlete. He’s got the ability to make an outstanding Quarterback for the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.
But, we’ve all heard that before, with Ron Powlus, Brady Quinn and Jimmy Clausen. They all played, but never quite lived up to the hefty expectations placed on them coming out of high school. Doubtfully, there will be anybody on ABC, or ESPN, saying he will win multiple Heismans as Beano Cook did with Ron Powlus. But, expectations will always be extremely high for a Notre Dame
Can Phil Jurkovec become another great Notre Dame Quarterback?
The Fighting Irish are the most loved and the most hated football team in America. They always have been. But, even if you hate the Irish, you have to admit that a strong Notre Dame is good for college football.
Who can forget all of the great games from the Irish past? The great players and the great teams are a huge part of college football. Notre Dame vs Miami? Catholics vs Convicts? Notre Dame vs Florida State, or USC, or any other number of great teams.
Here’s hoping for a great Phil Jurkovec and a playoff Notre Dame team in the future.
- Special thanks to Mike White of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette for info about Lenny Williams