Be Quick, but Don't Hurry

It took a year longer than he expected, but redshirt-freshman quarterback Everett Golson is prepared to compete for the offense's lead role.

Truth be told, "six-feet" might be a stretch.

Regardless of his official listed height, Notre Dame redshirt-freshman quarterback Everett Golson has a handle on the fact that he's shorter than the rest of his competitors, and certainly 99 percent of defensive linemen he'll face.

It's a point; it just happens to be moot.

"It wasn't like I was six-four and just turned six-feet," said Golson. "I've been dealing with it my whole life. You work with what you got."

What Golson has is a knack for the position, field vision, and athletic gifts, including quick feet and the ability to propel a football from Point A to Point B with velocity. In modern scouting parlance, "the kid can spin it."

What's missing? How about everything else that makes a guy that plays quarterback, the quarterback.

"One of the biggest things for me talking to Coach (Brian) Kelly, he said I have the art of it, but I need the science," said Golson. "Getting in the film room, getting my mechanics down.

"One of the main things I look to do is lead. It takes an art to lead. If I focus on my mechanics I'll be more complete...with time and preparation and coach Kelly and coach (Chuck) Martin, they made it easier. It would have been hard for me on my own.

Golson's anything but on his own, in fact, guidance, empathy, and invaluable experience is offered nearly every hour of the day. That's what happens when a 16-game starter is your camp roommate.

"It is awkward," said Golson in direct response to the question that Tommy Rees was his bunk mate. "I praise Tommy for that. Honestly I don't know if I could do that. He's a great guy. There are many times he says 'If you need anything, I'm here for you.'"

Rees' effort to tutor his toughest competitor is admirable. But camaraderie and chemistry are nothing more than an August buzz words in major college football. Fans, coaches, pundits, teammates…none of the above truly care if players are best friends or barely speak, as long as each performs and can be respected for his effort and dedication to the team on Saturdays between the lines.

Golson's goal is to win that trust and the starting job.

"Honestly I had dreams about it," said Golson of hearing his name announced as the Week One starter on game day in Dublin. "Seeing visions of me being out there…the crowd. That motivates me to keep going."

Knocked Down a Peg

An early enrollee in January 2011, Golson expected to compete for the starting job, if not win it, in Year One. Instead, he operated the other team's offense as the Scout Team Quarterback, enough to earn Scout Team Player of the Year honors for the offense.

Not exactly the dream of the sixth most prolific touchdown tosser in high school football history, or every incoming of a three-time state champion in two sports.

"I was so anxious to play," said Golson of his redshirt season last fall. "Coming from a successful high school, you always think you're ready to play and battle for the starting position. Unfortunately it wasn't that way.

"Sitting out helped me. I came in ready to compete for the starting spot and it was like, 'Wait a minute?' It made me step back and made me realize I have to mature a little more, and show the guys I can be the leader. I can honestly admit that last year I wasn't really ready for that. Going through the Scout Team humbled me to get back to do what I know how to do."

Golson's at his best when the ball is snapped, but to be a successful quarterback in Kelly's spread attack, his work prior to each hiking of the football needs ample improvement.

"Its more the relationship between myself and the signal," said Golson of his oft-publicized issue. "We're getting better. Calming down and relaxing, don't be too antsy but don't work at a quick pace.

"Everything is kind of slowing down, not where I want it to be, but it's definitely slowing down."

Its about to speed up again.

The final three weeks of camp will doubtless be far more challenging than the first. And while Notre Dame's defense is better than Navy's, no one on the Irish is looking to knock Golson or any of his competitors out with kill shots in practice. After Navy? A string of 11 better defenses than the Midshipmen's.

Thanks to a tweak in his head coach's practice plan, Golson feels he or any other Irish passer will be better prepared for what awaits on a challenging 2012 slate.

"That's the thing I like most about how we restructured our practices. Where we used to get like 20 reps of 11-on-11 work, we're up to about 42," said Golson. "It really gives us a good simulation. You want as much of that in as possible."

As for the (likely race-based) notion that Golson is a "running quarterback," the redshirt-freshman proved immediately he's wise beyond his years when it comes to picking his battles.

"I don't think that's a battle I can fight. It is what it is," he said. "I'm looked at as a running quarterback, but it can work to my advantage. I feel like there's a balance. The main thing about me is I adapt well. If they drop 8 or 9 (into coverage) I can be patient. Or if they bring down and start blitzing, we can go over the top. I can (adapt)."

Adapting and overcoming. That's what its about when the bullets go live Saturday's this fall.


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