When Tyler Buchner suffered a season-ending injury to his left shoulder on September 10 it looked like his season was over. The injury to his non-throwing occurred late in Notre Dame’s upset loss to Marshall and Fighting Irish head coach Marcus Freeman would later say that Buchner’s recovery would take up to four months.
That original timeline put his return to action somewhere in the middle of January, well after the Fighting Irish season would be complete. Fast forward not quite 75 days from Buchner’s surgery to repair the AC joint and there is a possibility that he could be back on the field and in action with Notre Dame this season.
Freeman did not rule out the possibility that Buchner could play in Notre Dame’s bowl game in December or January.
"That's still to be determined,” Freeman said at his pre-USC press conference this week. "Right now our docs are not 100% sure. That will be based on how he progresses over these next couple weeks.”
The possibility that Buchner could return surfaced prior to Notre Dame’s game against Boston College when Freeman indicated that the sophomore had been doing some light work at practice with the team.
"He's practicing doing some individual stuff,” Freeman said of Buchner. "Not wearing pads and stuff like that, but he's participating in parts of practice and then other parts of practice doing some rehab still.”
Buchner started Notre Dame’s first two games of the season against Ohio State and Marshall. He was 28 for 50 for 378 passing yards with no touchdown passes and two interceptions. He also ran the ball for 62 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries. His injury came on a scramble late against Marshall.
"He's practicing more,” Freeman noted. "Obviously, there's no contact with him. And so we'll see. If it's what's best for him and he can be full go and be able to be healthy and protect himself, prepare for a bowl game then no hesitation and given that opportunity, but that's still to be determined.”
Since Buchner has only played in two games this season, he would still preserve a year of eligibility even if he plays in Notre Dame’s bowl game. He played in 10 games, all off the bench, as a true freshman in 2021.
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