Zaire Talks Irish Offer

Ohio quarterback Malik Zaire thought he might be close to narrowing down his early offer list. However, that changed once Notre Dame entered the picture.

Recruitment has ramped up for Kettering (Ohio) Archbishop Alter quarterback Malik Zaire as programs such as Wisconsin, Ohio State, Nebraska and others issued verbal scholarship offers.

However, things changed this week when Notre Dame reached out for the southpaw signal caller.

"I talked with coach (Mike) Elston on Facebook," said Zaire. "He told me he wanted me to call him and tell me about the offer. I also spoke with coach (Chuck) Martin their quarterback coach and we talked about how I fit in their offense and what they like about me. It was a good conversation."

Zaire visited the Irish this past season giving him a sense of what the program is all about.

"I went up last year when they played Michigan State," he said. "I definitely can see myself fitting in there in terms of being a dynamic guy for their offense and being able to lead their offense down the field.

"Coach Martin said they want to throw the ball around a lot and I think I can help with that. I also feel I can help stay in the pocket when needed and using my athletic gifts to make play when the passing play doesn't work out. I think that is what they liked most."

How big was this latest offer to Zaire?

"It was a big offer for me because Notre Dame has a great history with quarterbacks and a great tradition overall. I think that whole aspect of it is really good for me."

Along with the offer Zaire has made a change of travel plans that include another visit to South Bend.

"I definitely want a chance to go back up there for a visit and check it out. I'm looking to make my decision by the end of March or the first part of April. So I'm trying to reaffirm the things I felt the first time I saw it and see how the new coaching staff is taking shape and talk with Coach (Brian) Kelly and see how that goes down."

With a possible decision looming, what programs have taken the top spots for Zaire?

"I've got it down to a top five," Zaire said. "My original top three before Notre Dame offered was Nebraska, Ohio State and Pittsburgh. I just came back from a visit to Pittsburgh this weekend. Then getting the Notre Dame offer I expanded my list to a Top Five adding Notre Dame and Wisconsin. They are all great schools and great places I could see myself at."

How will Zaire known when to pull the trigger?

"It will all come down to how I feel at the end of it," said Zaire. "It will be more about trusting my gut feeling. When I see a campus I'll just know. It is important to me to have the academic ability and capabilities each school has to offer. I want to get a chance to look at that and see if it has the feeling of being at home and how I interact with the coaches and players."

Some Notre Dame fans have worried about attracting a top quarterback after the signing of Gunner Kiel in the 2012 class. Will it hurt a program who just signed a young top quarterback in getting a pledge from Zaire?

"Not at all," Zaire stressed. "It will be all about how I see myself fitting in. Anywhere I go there is going to be competition and I don't shy away from competition. I always want to see who the better quarterback for the team is at that time. I don't look at who they've offered or who they've taken in the past because I feel if they've offered my they feel I have a chance to compete and that is what I want to go out and do."

One factor that could help the Irish is Zaire's academic background at Archbishop Alter. Does having a Catholic background help the Irish?

"It plays a certain factor," Zaire said. "In my case I always want to have a religious aspect to the campus I go to because I always want to be in touch with my religion and be able to incorporate that with the team and have good team spirit. Coming up and going through Catholic school was something that was installed in me at an early age."

With a planned visit for sometime in March, Zaire seems determined to get his pledge out of the way. Irisheyes.com will continue to follow Zaire in the coming months until he makes a decision.


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