Notre Dame hoping Golson can take his game to the next level

Notre Dame hoping Golson can take his game to the next level
February 28, 2014, 3:45 pm
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Tony Andracki

So many questions surround Everett Golson as he prepares to take the field for Notre Dame this spring.

Can he regain a stranglehold on the No. 1 quarterback job? Can he put his off-field struggles behind him? How long will it take for the rust to shake off after he missed the entire fall campaign?

[RELATED: Five Notre Dame players to watch in spring practice]

It's been more than a year since Golson saw competitive action, when he and the Irish were blown out by Alabama in the BCS Championship game in January 2013. But he's made the most of his time away from Notre Dame.

He gained 15 pounds and spent time at George Whitfield's quarterback training academy in San Diego, working on his mechanics and technique. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly is expecting Golson to return to the program as a leader.

"The one thing with Everett is he's a hard-working kid," Kelly said during Friday's press conference. "He's always been that way since he's been here. It's never been a question about his work ethic.

"The quarterback, just by its position, is going to be a leader. So what we're working on with Everett is just consistency."

[MORE: Oddsmakers put Everett Golson in 2014 Heisman Trophy mix]

Kelly and the Irish coaching staff have a plan in place to put Golson on a leadership pedestal.

"If you look at the 'watch words' for leadership: The first thing is compete...He's a great competitor," Kelly said. "The second thing is consistency. Well, he hasn't shown that yet, right? So we're working on the consistency end of things.

"The third thing that I look for is great communication and we're doing a really good job of communicating on a day-to-day basis. And the fourth thing is being coachable. I think those four things are what I look for from every one of our players, and I like where we are in that process with Everett right now."

Golson does not have a clear path to the starting gig, with redshirt freshman Malik Zaire competing for the job, as well. Zaire, an athletic dual-threat quarterback, has drawn praise from the Notre Dame coaching staff despite his lack of experience.

[RELATED: Everett Golson won't be handed No. 1 QB job]

Golson is the most seasoned quarterback on the Irish roster and even though he wasn't enrolled at Notre Dame in the fall, he matured and spent time learning the game and his position. Heading into spring practice, Kelly wants to see continued evolution from the 2012 starter.

"In our dialogues relative to football, he has definitely a higher IQ as it relates to what we are talking about from a football standpoint," Kelly said. "I can talk to him about things that I didn't believe I could talk to him about relative to protections, hot routes, just the nuances of the passing game.

"Clearly, he has evolved there. His size, his strength -- he did 30 pull-ups the other day. He's way ahead of the group in terms of his physicalness, but I haven't seen him throw the football yet."