Grading on a Curve: QB

Brian Kelly's third full Irish recruiting class is complete, with 24 members joining between September 2011 and National Signing Day 2013. presents its grades for the class, position-by-position, with a focused eye toward both last year's 17-player haul and the team's needs for the upcoming 2014 cycle. Our fifth position unit graded: Quarterback.

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Quarterbacks, 2012-13, and Beyond...

Head coach Brian Kelly's 2010 recruiting cycle contained a semester enrollee, and Tommy Rees' early assimilation helped him to a 4-0 mark as a starter in his rookie campaign. The 2011 group included a January enrollee as well, and after a season on the scout team, Everett Golson led Notre Dame to a 12-1 record, national championship appearance, and 10-1 record as a starter.

Last year's smallish recruiting class also featured a semester enrollee: FOX Sports NEXT's top-ranked triggerman Gunner Kiel, who followed Golson's path with a season on the Irish scout team last fall. Kiel wouldn't mind taking Golson's job at the controls of another 12-win football team in 2013.

All of the above is relevant for incoming four-star prospect Malik Zaire, who'll redshirt in 2013 and be ready to compete next season. Expect the same for whomever Kelly inks in the forthcoming cycle as well...

2013 Grade -- B+

A dual-threat lefty, Zaire brings tremendous feet, strength, leadership, toughness, and -- it is to be hoped -- a developable skill set a a pocket passer. He offered his pledge in late March 2012 and later served as one of many voices at the forefront of a close-knit recruiting class.

It's highly unlikely Zaire will play in 2013 thanks to well-tiered depth (veteran and rookie) at the position. It's also true such a raw talent would receive a year of seasoning if the Irish weren't stacked at the position.

Why a B+ grade? One QB in the class: perfect. Said QB is a dual-threat, and by all accounts, a future leader: ideal.

But said quarterback's accepted weakness is his accuracy at least relative to the level he's about to join: B+

Quote to Note: "I think what I loved about Malik is when he came up here last spring, he sat in our quarterback meeting room, and in that meeting room you've got some really good quarterbacks. When he left that meeting, he made it clear to me that this was the place he wanted to be. He loved the environment, he loved the coaching, he loved the opportunity to come in and run the offense, and that's looking at great competition and saying, I don't care about that, I'm going to come to Notre Dame because it's the right place for me academically, and it's the right place for me because I'm going to be the starter here at Notre Dame, and we love those kind of guys that have that attitude.

"Malik has obviously showed himself at that high level in camps that he went out and really excelled in. He can throw it, he can run it, he's got great versatility at the quarterback position, and he's a really, really smart kid."
-- Kelly on his lone 2013 signal-caller.

2013 Grade Coupled with 2012 -- A+

One of the best quarterbacks in the 2012 class ran Notre Dame's scout team last season. The position is at its healthiest South Bend state since 1989 when senior Tony Rice and the all-star freshmen pair of Rick Mirer and Jake Kelchner were on campus. (Each of the three at one point won at least 10 games in a college season, though Kelchner did so at West Virginia.)

Necessary additions for 2014 as a result: One, again. Tommy Rees will graduate and Andrew Hendrix is unlikely to be granted a fifth season as one of four returning quarterbacks. Adding another signal-caller in 2014 keeps the ball rolling, keeps the position stocked with tiered talent (redshirt junior, redshirt sophomore, redshirt freshman). Failing the addition of a top player at the position, a quarterback-athlete prospect would suffice.

Were needs filled at QB over the last two seasons?

And then some. Expect Kelly to bring in a quarterback or QB/athlete in every recruiting class for eternity. Top Stories