Everett Golson has returned to his comfort zone in South Bend, but before taking the practice field for a final time, Golson took the opportunity to return to another familiar campus haunt.
“I want to take my hat off to the whole Notre Dame community,” said the ex-Irish triggerman at Thursday’s Pro Day at the Loftus Center. “I’ve been in the band room a couple times, you know, playing the piano, and they’ve welcomed me back. It’s been good.”
After a graduate season spent in Tallahassee at Florida State, Golson chose South Bend as the location to display his talents to NFL scouts. Joined by 16 former teammates and watched by scores of current Irish players, Golson threw passes to familiar targets Chris Brown, Amir Carlisle, Will Fuller, and C.J. Prosise.
“I felt that this is my Alma Mater. I got my degree from here,” said Golson. “I wanted to be back with these guys.
“It’s kind of a big moment if you really think about it. You have (17) or so guys out here who’ll probably never be in the same spot together again. For me that was really important to get out here and throwing to guys that I’ve been comfortable with like Breezy and Will, those guys.”
Not invited to Indianapolis for the NFL Combine in February, Golson spent the last eight-plus weeks training today’s tests.
“Just Training. Getting my head on straight. I feel good, man,” he offered. “Mentally I feel great. One thing I can say, and I want all y’all to get this: God is good. For me, everything I’ve been through, growing stronger in my faith. It’s been good these last two months.
“I feel like I did good. Made a little noise. A lotta people weren’t probably expecting it. But I think I made some noise today.”
He’ll have to impress in interviews with league scouts and general managers hereafter as well, a process Golson’s begun in earnest and apparently relishes.
“The feedback is they know I can play,” said Golson. “My athletic ability; ability to improvise. Really I want to get on the (chalk) board with those guys, too, because I have a little something (to show) in the film room, too.”
Asked if he regrets his decision to play elsewhere as a fifth year senior last fall, Golson offered. “No. I think as a man you live with the decisions that you make. The decision at that time was to leave. For me I don’t look at the past. Move forward at this point.”
With one last look back.
“(We didn’t) skip a beat. It’s like the long lost brother coming home,” said Golson of the reaction he received from former classmates and the younger Irish players in attendance. “They don’t act like I’m some brand new guy. Talk to me just like I was at workouts yesterday.
“Some of my best friends are on this team,” he said of the Irish contingent. “Sheldon (Day), that’s my brother from another mother. I always kept up with those guys, watching from afar. Seeing what they’re doing. I watched some of their games, kind of calling out plays. I felt like I was with them from a distance.”
One ex-teammate Golson unexpectedly had a chance to keep an eye on was redshirt-freshman quarterback DeShone Kizer, a player that was not challenging Golson and Malik Zaire in the latter duo’s quarterback competition one year ago.
“Wow. WOW. Man…he’s grown up for real,” said Golson of Kizer. “He’s really performing. I would say there are certain things you see in a guy when he’s young, but he’s surpassed everything I thought (he could). He’s done a great job leading the team and really taking control of it.
“I always thought he had that leadership capability, but the position that he was in (third string) he couldn’t have that shine.”
Golson wasn’t asked about Zaire but referenced the bad break his former competitor received last September.
“You don’t bank on Malik going down,” Golson continued of Kizer’s ascent last fall. But they have the model, ‘Next Man In.’ He was next man in and he was ready. He prepared and really balled out. My hat’s off to him.”