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Tyler Buchner Returning to the Irish as a Walk-On Receiver

Tyler Buchner

Despite changing schools and even sports, Tyler Buchner can’t quit Notre Dame football. The former Notre Dame and Alabama quarterback is returning to the Fighting Irish as a walk-on wide receiver he announced in an open letter to Notre Dame fans late last week. Following a year in Alabama, Buchner re-enrolled at Notre Dame and is fresh off winning a National Championship as a reserve midfielder for Irish’s lacrosse team.

“It would have been easy for the football coaching staff to see me just as a player who had left, but instead, I am grateful they were able to see as a young man eager to return and contribute in any way I could for the greater good of the team,” Buchner wrote in the letter posted on the Notre Dame website.

“As I returned to campus and joined lacrosse, I quickly realized my journey was not merely a return to a game I had not played since ninth grade but a renewal of my spirit and love for competition,” Buchner continued. “It was an opportunity to play for the defending National Champions and to reset my goals and priorities.”


Buchner Eager to Contribute

A starter for the Irish to begin the 2022 season, Buchner wound up missing 10 games with a shoulder injury. He returned in time to salvage his season by leading Notre Dame to a Gator Bowl victory over South Carolina. Ultimately, Buchner followed former Notre Dame offensive coordinator Tommy Rees to Alabama when Wake Forest transfer quarterback Sam Hartman was handed the reins of the Irish offense.

Buchner started just one game for the Crimson Tide in 2023, going five of 14 for 34 yards against South Florida in the third game of the year. He was subsequently benched by head coach Nick Saban following that game. He concluded the 2023 season behind starter Jalen Milroe and backup Ty Simpson.

Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman, who met with Buchner in the spring, is happy to welcome Buchner back to the football team. Freeman met with reporters on Friday.

“Three weeks ago, he asked if he could meet with me, and I said, ‘Sure,’ Freeman shared. “He just wants to help the football program. He said, ‘Coach, I want to help the program in any capacity. I love Notre Dame.’

“He can help us at any different position,” Freeman added. “He’ll go into the wide receivers’ room. He might signal (plays from the sideline). We don’t know exactly what capacity he’ll be, but he will be on the team starting in fall camp as a walk-on wide receiver.”

Gator Bowl MVP

Buchner’s last appearance in a Notre Dame football uniform was memorable in more ways than one. He was named MVP in the Gator Bowl victory on the strength of his five touchdowns. He threw three touchdown passes and rushed for two scores to lead the Irish to a 45-28 victory over South Carolina. In the back-and-forth contest, Buchner needed all the scores. He had to offset two of his intercepted passes and returned for touchdowns. It was the highest-scoring Gator Bowl in history.

“The game we played was great,” Buchner told ESPN following the Gator Bowl. “We won the game, and I couldn’t be happier. But for me, personally, I didn’t play to the standard I wanted to play. I think I accounted for two extra touchdowns they didn’t want me to account for. That’s not the standard I hold myself to.”

Exciting New Chapter

Returning to the team that he left 13 months ago Buchner will have another opportunity to help Notre Dame football in 2024. His diverse skill set and experience gained from his brief stint in Alabama should serve him well. With renewed enthusiasm, Buchner should prove to be a positive influence on team dynamics.

“As a 20-year-old, the ache of leaving behind the Fighting Irish was overshadowed by the pull of the transfer portal and the promise of playing one season for Coach Saban as the next logical step towards playing in the NFL,” Buchner wrote. “But I had forgotten why I chose Notre Dame in the first place, and it took a season away to realize what I had and why I loved Notre Dame.”

Tyler Buchner
Photo courtesy: Greg Swiercz / USA TODAY NETWORK



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