Sam Hartman, JD Bertrand to Play in Reese’s Senior Bowl

Notre Dame quarterback Sam Hartman accepted an invitation to the Reese’s Senior Bowl, which takes place on Feb. 3 in Mobile, Ala. Leading NFL prospects participate in the annual game, which culminates in a week of workouts in front of scouts and coaches from all 32 NFL teams. Linebacker JD Bertrand also accepted an invite to the game.

A year ago, Hartman, arguably the most sought-after quarterback in the transfer portal, moved from Wake Forest to Notre Dame. His decision to leave the Demon Deacons was driven by the desire to demonstrate to NFL scouts that he could excel in a pro-style offense. The sixth-year senior stated in all 12 games for the Fighting Irish in 2023. Hartman completed 191 out of 301 passes (63.5 percent), amassing 2,689 yards, 24 touchdowns, and only eight interceptions. Notably, his interception count marked the lowest in his career in seasons that he played in at least 10 games.

Whether he convincingly demonstrated his command of a pro-style offense to NFL teams remains uncertain. Pro Football Focus ranks Hartman as the 15th quarterback prospect eligible for the upcoming NFL draft. There was a total of 14 quarterbacks taken in the 2023 NFL Draft. By playing in the Reese’s Senior Bowl, Hartman will have another opportunity to showcase his talent.

Sam Hartman’s Collegiate Career One for the Record Books

Hartman wrapped up his accomplished collegiate career ranking fifth in NCAA history for passing yards with a total of 15,656. He shares the third spot for the most passing touchdowns (134) with Texas Tech’s Graham Harrell. Despite his achievements in the passing department, Hartman’s season with the Irish did not unfold entirely as expected. The season was tarnished by losses to Ohio State, Louisville, and Clemson, all of which were winnable games for Notre Dame.

Former Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book was the last Irish signal caller to be taken in the NFL Draft. Book went to the New Orleans Saints in the fourth round in 2021. Others include Jarious Jackson (Denver Broncos in 2000), Brady Quinn (Cleveland Browns in 2007), Jimmy Clausen (Carolina Panthers in 2010), and DeShone Kizer (Browns in 2017).

Effective Field General

For the most part in 2023, Hartman proved an effective field general. Following exceptional performances in his first four games with the Irish, Hartman struggled as the competition got tougher. As a result, Hartman failed to climb up draft boards as the season progressed.

Hartman possesses a strong arm. He is good, but not elite. He can make most of the throws needed by an NFL quarterback—he can drive the deep out to the sideline and thread the needle between defenders. He has a good touch on underneath routes and ball placement is one of his strengths. Overall, Hartman has the type of instincts you want in a quarterback. He is tough and can make plays when forced to improvise. He might even be more effective when on the move and evading pressure.

JD Bertrand Accepts Reese’s Senior Bowl Invite

Joining Hartman in the Reese’s Senior Bowl will be graduate student linebacker JD Bertrand. Despite one more year of eligibility, Bertrand has declared for the NFL Draft, and he accepted an invite to the Reese’s Senior Bowl.

Bertrand led Notre Dame in tackles in each of the last three seasons. He missed one game in the 2023 regular season with a concussion but still finished with 75 tackles. He also recorded 7.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, four pass breakups, and one forced fumble. The two-year team captain has been the quarterback of the defense for head coach Marcus Freeman’s first two years at the helm of the Irish.

A tackling machine, Bertrand might be small by NFL standards, but his ability to finish plays will suit him well at the next level. A fast processor, Bertrand is a smart leader. He is often in the right spot to make plays. An agile, physical defender, Bertrand is solid in one-on-one opportunities. He drives his legs through contact and is strong against the run. In coverage, Bertrand’s awareness shines. Because he recognizes formations, he often points teammates to the correct pre-snap alignment when facing high-tempo offenses. Against bigger bodies, however, Bertrand struggles. His overall strength and open-field tackling will need improvement for the next level.

Bertrand previously accepted an invitation to the East-West Shrine Bowl but switched his commitment to the Reese’s Senior Bowl where he will join a bevy of top-tier talent poised to showcase their talent ahead of the NFL Draft.

Photo Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

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