Brian Kelly doesn’t want to see Brandon Wimbush on the field this fall.
It’s not that the freshman quarterback doesn’t have the talent to play at Notre Dame after getting spot duty last season. It’s just that the Irish program can afford to extend Wimbush’s college career with Malik Zaire healthy, DeShone Kizer experienced and Ian Book signed.
Kelly revealed plans to sit Wimbush on Wednesday when he joined The Audible, a national podcast hosted by Bruce Feldman and Stewart Mandel at Fox Sports.
The red shirt would get Wimbush out of Kizer’s eligibility class. Right now they both have three years remaining. It also means when the 2017 season started the eligibility for Notre Dame’s quarterbacks could be Zaire (1), Kizer (2), Wimbush (3) and Book (4).
“We plan on red shirting Brandon Wimbush,” Kelly said. “The goal would be to go into this year and red shirt him.
“That’s why we thought it was very important to get Ian Book … a very proficient passer. He’s gonna be a long reliever. He can come in and play right away. A very smart kid who can take that position while we red shirt Brandon.”
As a senior, Book completed 244-of-346 passes (70.5 percent) for 3,049 yards, 30 touchdowns and five interceptions. He also rushed for 779 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Mike Sanford raved about Book on National Signing Day, calling him the perfect fit for Notre Dame’s offense after he recruited him to Boise State. Book committed to Washington State last year before Sanford doubled back around after taking the Notre Dame job.
Sanford said he showed Book’s film to Notre Dame’s offensive staff during his first couple weeks on staff last winter. Then he let Book know that the Irish would be recruiting him, it might just take time before Notre Dame would move forward.
“I told Ian, ‘Hey listen. I believe in you. I believe you’re good enough to play and be successful at any level of college football in the country,’” Sanford said. “But I’m supposed to go out there and evaluate all these big wigs, so I’m gonna do that. I’m gonna watch these guys throw, I’m gonna have them on campus, I’m gonna see what their competitive IQs are.
“And quite frankly I came back around to the conclusion that I thought I would.”
That was offering Book in July and picking up his commitment in early August.
At that point Notre Dame was just starting training camp with plans to red shirt Wimbush as a freshman. It didn’t work out that way. But with Book on board the Irish can give it another shot. This three-star prospect from El Dorado Hills, Calif., may have an impact on Notre Dame’s program in ways few expected.