Big Board: Quarterback

Will Notre Dame sign a quarterback come February? We examine the possibilities as the board could shift soon.

Notre Dame’s quarterback competition enters summer on a seemingly smooth path as Brian Kelly cited individual gains by both Everett Golson and Malik Zaire this spring. That’s a positive sign for what will be one of Notre Dame’s most impactful positions this fall.

What does that mean for Notre Dame’s quarterback recruiting?

The Big Board breaks that all down.

Current outlook

Heading into fall camp, a look at how the depth chart likely will stack up:

Everett Golson, Malik Zaire, DeShone Kizer, Brandon Wimbush

After next season, Notre Dame will lose Golson, and barring unknown attrition, it should return all others. Zaire will enter the 2016 season with two years of eligibility remaining, Kizer with three and Wimbush likely with all four.

What’s next

Depth could let Notre Dame pass at quarterback this cycle and focus on the Class of 2017.

But for now, Notre Dame’s attention is on landing its top junior quarterback target, Potomac (Md.) Bullis four-star Dwayne Haskins, who could realistically pop for a school at any time. Should Notre Dame miss on Haskins, the staff will either turn up the heat on Matt Fink and Tylin Oden or enter a holding pattern at the position.

Losing traction with Haskins?

Schools in contention to land Haskins include Florida, Maryland, Notre Dame, Rutgers and Virginia Tech.

Maryland and Rutgers are the perceived favorites, and Haskins is fresh off recent visits to both the Scarlet Knights and Terrapins. He visited Notre Dame for Junior Day in March.

It appears location and familiarity could ultimately trump any other recruiting pitch, thus making Rutgers or Maryland the safe bet for now.

Competition added for Johnson

Notre Dame, Northwestern, Penn State and Tennessee are considered the front-runners to land Brownsburg (Ind.) High sophomore four-star quarterback Hunter Johnson, who could make a decision at the onset of his senior year.

After his spring visits, which included trips to Indiana, Miami, Michigan, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Penn State and Tennessee, the Nittany Lions emerged as the program with the most momentum.

Notre Dame should receive a visit from Johnson this summer, and Mike Sanford is pushing to get him on campus for one of the less-attended individual camps (potentially in addition to Irish Invasion), so the two can have more time to work out together on the field.

This could very well come down to Penn State and Notre Dame in the end.

Another 2017 quarterback to monitor is Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman dual-threat four-star Tate Martell, who named a top five last week of Notre Dame, Oregon, Texas A&M, TCU and USC. Of that group, USC is the only school to have offered.

Tua Tagovailoa from the St. Louis School in Hawaii has also expressed interest in Notre Dame. He already holds offers from Arizona, Ole Miss, Nebraska, USC, Utah and Washington. Tagovailoa attends the same prep program that produced Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariotta.

Here’s a look at the updated Master List at quarterback.

Quarterback
Woody Barrett
6-3, 210
Winter Garden, Fla.
Offer: Yes Visit: No Recruiter: Denson Top Offers: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Clemson
Outlook: Notre Dame signed Barrett’s teammate Dexter Williams last cycle, but early interest doesn’t seem to be there for the dual threat.
Matt Fink
6-3, 185
Glendora, Calif.
Offer: Yes Visit: No Recruiter: Sanford Top Offers: USC, Boise State, Washington, Cal, Utah
Update: The Irish jumped on Fink as his recruitment exploded, with USC now a serious player. Proximity to home could be an issue.
Xavier Gaines
6-3, 207
Lake Wales, Fla.
Offer: Yes Visit: No Recruiter: Denson Top Offers: Auburn, Alabama, Texas, Florida
Outlook: Gaines looked like too long of a shot to include on the last last Master List, but the Irish now sit in his top five. Auburn likely leads.
Dwayne Haskins
6-2, 180
Potomac, Md.
Offer: Yes Visit: Yes Recruiter: Booker Top Offers: Ohio St., Alabama, Maryland, Texas
Update: The buzz around Haskins is he doesn’t want to leave home, with Maryland and Rutgers leading. The Irish continue to give chase.
Tylin Oden
6-5, 190
Columbia, Tenn.
Offer: No Visit: Yes Recruiter: Elston Top Offers:Tennessee, Louisville, Kentucky
Outlook: If Notre Dame wants a long-term quarterback, Oden could be the guy. He visited for Junior Day and loved the experience.
Notes: Notre Dame can recruit from a position of strength at quarterback, a rarity during the Brian Kelly era. That’s what DeShone Kizer coming off a red-shirt and Brandon Wimbush enrolling this summer means to the program. It makes getting a quarterback this cycle a challenge and an optional take considering tight numbers overall. With the top Class of 2017 prospect already identified in in-state quarterback Hunter Johnson, the Irish can have confidence they’ll land an elite target next cycle too. Johnson visited twice in March. With all that said, Kelly would love to get Dwayne Haskins on board after he visited for Junior Day in March. Haskins also saw South Bend last summer, although Notre Dame felt like more of a long shot back then. Haskins is the personality Notre Dame wants at the position, as an outgoing natural leader and willing recruiter. The East Coast target plans to commit this summer with Maryland or Rutgers the smart picks today. Haskins loves the publicity of the recruiting process, and while Notre Dame would offer plenty of that, the path to playing time here is a long one. Matt Fink and Tylin Oden are the next level prospects for the board with Jawon Pass now dropped. Fink is looking into a summer visit. Woody Barrett doesn’t seem to have much interest in Notre Dame either. Xavier Gaines is back on the Master List after putting the Irish in his top five alongside Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee and Texas. However, the Volunteers, Longhorns already have quarterback commitments. Pass is looking hard at Alabama and Auburn too, which might mean another turn in Gaines’ recruitment.


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