SOUTH BEND, Ind. — After six and a half months in exile, Everett Golson is once again a student at Notre Dame. That's the primary concern, seeing as poor academic judgment was why Golson was booted from the school in May.
But for coach Brian Kelly, he's not just expecting Golson to be an improved student after he was re-admitted into the university on Friday. From a football standpoint, Kelly thinks what Golson went through since late May will help him develop as a leader in 2014.
"I think he's set up to lead by the way he handled the situation," Kelly said. "I think he's gotten a lot of respect from his teammates in the manner that he handled himself, took full accountability and responsibility for his actions, didn't point a finger — he was a thumb-pointer when it came to this matter — took it head on. ... He'll be judged by how he acts and if he's truly the guy that we think he's going to be, I think he'll earn that respect by his actions."
Golson still has to earn his old job back, and he'll have to do it by beating out freshman Malik Zaire next spring and summer. If Golson — who a year ago was the starting quarterback of a team vying for a national championship — does that, he'll be on a pedestal next fall.
Mentally, Kelly thinks Golson is ready for a different kind of spotlight.
"There's going to be a lot of noise surrounding Everett Golson," Kelly said. "There's going to be as many people looking at him to not succeed as there will be to succeed. Unfortunately, not everybody likes a good story, so there'll be some cynics out there."
But despite the academic fiasco that got Golson expelled from the school, Kelly said he has more trust in his quarterback. That's a feeling based on what Kelly outlined earlier, pointing to how well Golson handled a difficult situation.
Golson will meet up with Notre Dame in New York before the Dec. 28 Pinstripe Bowl, though he has to pay his way to get there. Kelly saw Golson last week in the quarterback's hometown of Myrtle Beach, S.C., saying he's "physically more mature" and probably weighs over 200 pounds (Golson was listed at 185 pounds last year).
The news of Golson's re-admittance into Notre Dame was welcome, if not expected, on Friday. The next step, now, is getting him assimilated back into the daily routine of class, workouts and eventually, practice.
But first, there's one minor detail that needs clearing up.
"I gotta figure out whether we have a scholarship available for him," Kelly said sarcastically. "We'll meet on that (Saturday) afternoon. I think we probably can find one."