Everett Golson Has His Work Cut Out for Him
After spending last season away from college football, serving a suspension for “poor academic judgment,” he is now back and presumably ready to resume his role as starting quarterback. However, he will be facing his toughest competition yet and coach Brian Kelly has made it abundantly clear that the job will not simply be handed over to him.
The other man hoping to claim the starting job is Malik Zaire, a redshirt freshman from Kettering, OH. With Golson’s suspension last year, it had to be tempting for Kelly to get Zaire some gametime experience but since he was able to rely on the veteran leadership of Tommy Rees, Zaire was able to preserve a year of eligibility and work on learning the system.
The first reason Golson isn’t a lock to win the job is because Zaire WILL see the field this year. Since he redshirted last year, there is absolutely no benefit for him not to see playing time. This fact will be taken into account during spring practice and fall camp as both players prepare and take their reps. Furthermore, even if Golson is named the started against Rice on September 6 to open the season, Zaire may be able to show enough prowess on the field to usurp him at some point throughout the season.
The other reason Golson is not a lock to win the starting job is because Zaire is a better athlete at quarterback. Golson has developed into a good quarterback who gives the Irish offense a lot more options than they’ve had in recent memory. However, he wasn’t ranked very highly coming out of high school, and at one point was even verbally committed to North Carolina to play basketball before deciding to stick with football. On the other hand, Zaire is an undisputed football player. He was a highly-rated recruit and is much more impressive under the eyeball test.
My prediction is that Golson will win a tight competition and, barring an injury or another impropriety, will start every game in 2014. He has a year of game experience under his belt that includes a national championship appearance, an invaluable trait that will give him the edge. There are also a lot of positive reports about the work he put in during his suspension and that his knowledge, decision-making and execution have grown leaps and bounds.
Nonetheless, will see a lot of Zaire. He is too good of a player not to touch the field; Notre Dame might utilize him in some red zone packages, in garbage time, and if Golson struggles for any extended period.