Upon hearing the news that Everett Golson had been reinstated to Notre Dame last month, it was assumed — a very safe assumption — that the quarterback would slide seamlessly back into his role as the Irish’s starter at the position.
While that will very likely be the case when the Irish take the field for their 2014 opener Aug. 30 against Rice, Golson’s head coach, at least with his public words, will make the junior earn that job back.
Speaking to the media Friday, Brian Kelly warned those assembled against anointing Golson as the starter, going out of his way to praise freshman Malik Zaire as a player who could change the predetermined storylines.
“I just want to caution everybody that we have I think a very good quarterback in Malik Zaire,” Kelly said. “I’m not ready to hand everything over to Everett. I love Everett, he played in the national championship game, but I’m also somebody that wants to make sure the quarterback position is such that we give everybody an opportunity to compete for that position.”
Zaire, a four-star member of the Irish’s 2013 recruiting class, did not see any action as a true freshman last season. On the other hand…
Golson, in his first season as the Irish’s No. 1 quarterback in 2012, started 11 of the 12 games in which he played in leading Notre Dame to its first unbeaten regular season in more than two decades and a spot in the BCS title game. With Tommy Rees taking over under center this past season due to Golson’s banishment, the Irish are 8-4.
In late May of last year, Golson was suspended from the university for what was described as an academic violation. Speculation subsequently surfaced that cheating was involved, with Golson confirming the rumors by acknowledging he had cheated on a final exam.
Golson’s battle to reclaim his starting job will begin in earnest during spring practice. As the Chicago Tribune writes, however, “it would be quite the upset if Zaire were to overtake Golson on the depth chart.”