Malik Zaire (Quarterback, 6'1" 190 pounds)Competitive, driven, a natural runner with deceptive power that happens to be electric in the open field, and a player looking to improve as a drop-back passer. That's the prospect head coach Brian Kelly has already welcomed to campus as a January enrollee, one of five incoming freshman ready to get a leg up on their classmates by participating in the spring session. (Tight End Mike Heuerman, OL Steven Elmer, WRs Corey Robinson and James Onwualu round out the semester quintet.)
Fellow incoming Quarterback prospects: None
Berk on Zaire: The Irish needed to find the right person as much as the right quarterback in the 2013 recruiting class. With strong and steady competition ahead of him, Zaire understands and is not afraid to work, wait his turn and compete.
Dohn on Zaire: Zaire's a dual-thread quarterback who can start and stop ona dime and has tremendous balance. He can escape the rush and keep his eyesdown the field to make a pass, but he needs to improve his arm strength and hisaccuracy. He is also 6-1, which isn't ideal for standing in the pocket and throwing.
O'Malley's Initial SlottingTo be blunt, the Scout Team, but that's understood. Like his teammates Rees, Golson, and Kiel, Zaire will benefit from early enrollment. He'll have a spring session to learn basic concepts, a week or so next August to show his wares as the offense is installed, and an entire season to work on his passing skills and pocket presence while assimilating to the college game on the Irish "show teams."
Zaire has a stout frame and shows the ability to run through traffic and arm tackles while absorbing contact. With footwork reminiscent of graduated senior runner Theo Riddick, Zaire could be a major weapon on the shot-gun read-option.
Zaire's first correction on campus will likely be an elongated left-handed throwing motion. He'll be drilled repeatedly on the proper footwork and that, coupled with a more compact release, will help his accuracy on crucial mid-range throws. Zaire can throw on the run, showing the ability to make the "athletic throws" head coach Brian Kelly covets in his triggerman.
Zaire should exit 2013 as the most dangerous runner among the team's quarterbacks -- he could hold that title this spring as well.
Links of Note: Click the links below for more highlight reels and comprehensive recruitment information for Malik Zaire: