SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Despite being dropped to third on Notre Dame's depth chart and playing sparingly last fall, Andrew Hendrix said on Saturday he never considered transferring.
Six months ago, Hendrix faced an uphill climb to see the field. Everett Golson was entrenched as the starter. Tommy Rees was his steady backup. Gunner Kiel was the talented quarterback tabbed by prognosticators as someone who could push not just Rees, but Golson as well.
Golson won't play for Notre Dame in 2013 following his expulsion for the fall semester. Kiel never fit in with Notre Dame and transferred to Cincinnati in March.
And all of a sudden Hendrix is solidly Notre Dame's No. 2 quarterback, a guy who has a much easier path to the field this fall.
"You would probably have to be out of your mind to leave here, in all honesty," Hendrix said. "At all times, you’re a number of plays away from being the guy on the field. And if you have confidence in yourself, then it’s not hard to stay here. Plus, the school is unbelievable, the people are unbelievable, this organization’s great. It really was never an option in my mind."
Coach Brian Kelly said Hendrix isn't a "prototypical gym rat," clarifying that since he didn't really grow up playing quarterback, a steeper learning curve existed for his understanding of the game. Hendrix agreed with that assessment, and said offensive coordinator Chuck Martin has emphasized he needs to be more comfortable and get to the point where the game comes naturally to him.
Two years ago, Hendrix flashed promise when he played the entire second half of Notre Dame's meeting with Stanford in Palo Alto. The numbers weren't great, but Hendrix's athletic ability impressed.
He wasn't able to seize a chance to build on that, losing the starting job to Golson and then the backup gig to Rees last year. Hendrix pointed to his inexperience as to why he didn't make that leap.
"There were a lot of intricacies of the game that I didn’t know," he said. "And I didn’t know that I didn’t know them."
Hendrix plans on staying at Notre Dame through 2014, which would be his fifth year in South Bend, as long as he's invited back (another thin quarterback depth chart means he likely will be). He might drop back down to No. 3 next fall, behind Golson and Malik Zaire. But he feels he'll only grow as a quarterback with more reps this fall -- and even if he does wind up No. 3, there likely won't be any concerns about his universally-praised attitude.
"Really, he probably wasn't happy about it, but he's such a great character kid that he probably, he focused on what he could do to help the team in whatever capacity. And he did," Kelly said of Hendrix's approach last year. "Sometimes he went over and helped the scout team. And whatever role he was asked, he really was a team guy.
"I don't know he really enjoyed it, but he's such a great kid and a great teammate that he did whatever was necessary. But I'm sure he went home at night going 'this stinks.' Nobody really likes that. But he accepted his role, and that's why he's such a great kid."
The fourth-year Notre Dame coach also said earlier in the spring he'll have no reservations about using Hendrix if he feels it'll help Notre Dame win.
"I'm confident that Andrew can help us win this year," Kelly explained. "And if I think I can insert him at any time to give us that, I am not hesitant to do that. I'll go to the bullpen and ask him to help us."