QuarterbacksThree played, two of the trio remain, and history was again our guide: not once over the last 30 years has a four-quarterback competition manifested without a transfer from the program.
Departing: Senior Dayne Crist. Crist graduated in December and moved onto Kansas to join former head coach Charlie Weis for his fifth and final season of eligibility. Also joining Weis and Crist in Kansas are former Notre Dame quarterbacks coach Ron Powlus and former wide receivers coach, Rob Ianello.
Players Returning: Three remain and each has been staggered nicely in terms of collegiate eligibility
- Sophomore Tommy Rees – With 16 starts under his belt, Rees has a leg up at present. His 20 touchdown passes in 2011 are sixth all-time at the school though his 19 turnovers in the equivalent of 12 games negates the former number's relevance.
- Sophomore Andrew Hendrix – One half of action vs. a top tier defense in Stanford; parts of three drives vs. another in FSU; a change-of-pace package vs. a terrible Air Force unit…Hendrix's body of work is barely enough to consider as he enters his second spring session and soon, his third August camp at ND.
- Freshman Everett Golson – The untested backup is everyone fan's favorite prospect. In Golson's favor: quick feet, a rocket arm, and winner's past (two state championships in high school). Potentially impeding his progress: the purported tendency to lose the football (which means he'd have fit right in with the 2011 Irish on Saturdays).
Incoming: None at present, though Notre Dame has reportedly stepped up its recruitment of QB/Athlete Devin Fuller (Old Tappan, N.J.)
Potential Position Switches: Former quarterback Luke Massa moved to wide receiver last off-season. He became a special teams starter in early October, competing on both the kick and punt return teams. Massa would be the emergency fourth quarterback if needed next fall.
Hunch: The Irish bring in a quarterback – preferably Fuller, but someone nonetheless – because a three quarterback unit is precarious at any school, much less one that employs the read-option offense. Unlike most quarterback recruits, Fuller could help the program at more than one scrimmage position during his years in South Bend.
Projected Spring Depth ChartThere are likely two, divergent approaches for head coach Brian Kelly to employ at the position during the winter conditioning season and spring practice session:
- Enter as they exited: Tommy Rees (1), Andrew Hendrix (2), and Everett Golson (3) with a chance for each to change his lot significantly over the 15-session spring.
- Enter on equal footing: Reps with the 1s, 2s, and scout team would be relatively equal among the three competitors. With 16 wins and 10 defeats over the last two seasons, I see no reason for anything other than open competition – one staged a full four months before August training camp begins.
An all-out, guns-blazing battle to see whose best equipped to lead the team as of April 21, 2012 entering the annual Blue Gold Game. (That contest means less to the staff than any scrimmage during the spring, but it's a nice time to gather and wonder why the game's standouts don't get more playing time the following autumn.)
Kelly need not name a starter publicly exiting the spring. In fact, it'd be odd if he were able to sort out this mess in March and April. But little would be gained with the status quo, as Kelly, his staff, the players, and fans everywhere know Tommy Rees can go to Dublin and defeat Navy, and likely return to South Bend and beat up Purdue.
The question is, which of the three quarterbacks best serves the team over the course of 2012 and 2013? The next set of 26 games must produce more victories than did the last.
Each must improve drastically from 2011 to help the Irish program return to a BCS Bowl.
Next in our position previews – the Irish linebackers