Searching for a signal-caller
In the time span of a year (and a week), the buzz surrounding Irish signal-callers has been less than stellar for Notre Dame fans to stomach. Last May, the freshman quarterback with a knack for making plays to help lead his team to a national championship was suspended for the fall season due to poor academic judgement. A week and a half later, Notre Dame's top target at the position in 2014, Kyle Allen, committed to Texas A&M. Quarterback dominoes fell all over the country, Notre Dame said "no" to Brandon Dawkins, and subsequently a week later received a commitment from Toledo (Ohio) Central Catholic's DeShone Kizer, who possesses integral intangibles but doesn't carry a heavy of load of expectation with the Irish faithful. Which brings up the next (brief) point, Tommy Rees. The topic 's been beaten like a dead horse, but he did the best with the tools he had, made some quality plays, and dealt with his fair share of ups and downs on the field. Still, bottom line, he played a role in losing four games last year. Fast forward to today, and Notre Dame just learned its marquee recruit for 2015, quarterback Blake Barnett, has decommitted. A sudden decommitment, Barnett seemed as solid as solid could be just a week ago. Now, Oregon seems like a likely destination for where Barnett ends up. So, now your quarterback roster for the next two years looks like this, barring attrition: - Everett Golson - Maturation, 'it' factor, and arm strength. He's baaaack. For the most part, you know what you're dealing with in Golson, and despite missing last fall, he got a season's worth of work in with quarterback guru George Whitfield. And, those are reasons enough to eagerly await Aug. 30. - Malik Zaire - Moxy, a chip on his shoulder, and speed that makes you look twice. He's still fighting for quality playing time this upcoming season, though the likeness of that happening with a healthy Golson under center is doubtful. Still, he'll push Golson to be at his best, and he'll be ready to go when his name is called. The ceiling is high for Zaire. - DeShone Kizer - Potential, size, steady signs of improvement, and a non-liability, but is he a three-year starter at Notre Dame? The feelings Notre Dame fans share for Kizer for the most part are at a stalemate... and will be that way until he steps on the field. So, where does Notre Dame go from here? They'll certainly try to land a quarterback in this cycle. That's a given. Despite many of the top quality prospects off the board, it is only June. Ideally, Notre Dame would lock down a quarterback visitor or two for Irish Invasion. But, the clock's ticking on that end. A look at a few names: 1. Deondre Francois (Bradenton, Fla., IMG Academy) - Francois, a dual-threat, has a top five of Auburn, Florida State, Tennessee, Ohio State and Oregon. He has said committing at The Opening in July is a viable possibility, depending on how probable visits to Auburn, Tennessee and Ohio State pan out. Florida State is the favorite to land him, but Notre Dame could jump in the mix with an offer. 2. Travis Waller (Anaheim, Calif., Servite) - Notre Dame would not be taking much of a step down if it managed to land Waller. A dual-threat with a plethora of physical tools, Waller possesses size and steadiness. Oregon and Ohio State were two schools that Waller wanted offers from this spring, but that doesn't appear likely to happen as quarterback dominoes continue to fall. Stanford and USC are in the mix as well. 3. Kai Locksley (Baltimore, Md. Gilman School) - Lockersley is aiming to make a college decision by Aug. 30, but he is still technically considering a wide array of schools having just released a top 10 - Auburn, Baylor, Florida State, Maryland (where his father, Mike Locksley, is offensive coordinator), Miami, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Oregon, Texas and Virginia Tech. It is not far-fetched to see the Irish jumping in the mix here. 4. Jack Beneventi (Lisle, Ill., Benet Academy) - Beneventi already holds an Irish offer, and he was Notre Dame's top quarterback prospect in 2015 for a short time period before Barnett entered the picture. He is one of two quarterback commits for Iowa in 2015, and Notre Dame could begin to test the waters here soon. 5. James Morgan (Green Bay, Wisc. Ashwaubenon) - Morgan never received an offer from Notre Dame, but the Irish were always interested in his development. Morgan visited Notre Dame twice last season, and he is in no rush to make a decision, which bodes well for Notre Dame. He's a candidate that could be present at Irish Invasion. Worthy of a mention, Notre Dame is already in solid position for a number of top rising juniors, including Malik Henry (visiting for Irish Invasion), Jacob Eason (Irish legacy), Jawon Pass (has the Irish in his lead group) and K.J. Costello (visiting this month). Irish fans are certainly allowed to be frustrated with the past year's turn of events at quarterback. But, by no means is the future quarterback situation dire. Unknown and unproven beyond Golson? Perhaps. One. Quarterback is a one-man machine. Of course depth at the position is important, but at the end of the day, quarterbacks get all of the glory and all the blame for one reason. They stand as one of eleven. And, Notre Dame just needs one to rise to the occasion.
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