A mere eight days before the kickoff of the 2012 football season against Navy in Dublin, Ireland, Notre Dame has its quarterback.
For the first game, at least.
Everett Golson was named the starting quarterback at the weekend press conference Thursday evening.
Golson, a red-shirt freshman from Myrtle Beach, SC spent last season as the team's "show" quarterback, running the opposition offense for the scout team to help prepare the Irish defense. Despite winning an award for "scout team player of the year" at the annual football banquet, the position set Golson behind.
While Tommy Rees and Andrew Hendrix were splitting reps learning and mastering Notre Dame's complex offense, Golson was spending his time learning everyone else's plays, only catching up on the Irish playbook in the film room and in his own time.
Still, Golson's natural athleticism and raw talent were enough to get him into the competition to start for the Irish this year.
Golson turned in a standout performance in the spring game, showing off his arm, his accuracy, his ability to look off a safety or under-zone linebacker (something neither Tommy Rees or Andrew Hendrix have shown any interest in accomplishing), as well as his foot speed.
The only thing that seemed to plague Golson was an inability to get the offense lined up properly.
Head coach Brian Kelly downplayed Golson's superb effort in the spring game, citing that he still had a lot to work on.
And work he did.
Golson entered fall camp having spent the spring and summer locked in the film room, studying defenses, breaking down game film and preparing himself for what he will see when he faces a live opponent.
The mental preparation showed, as Golson went through training camp throwing only one interception in 126 passing attempts.
Despite an also strong camp for Hendrix, the choice to start Golson is an easy one.
The greatest problem that the Irish offense faced a year ago was that the quarterback could not hold on to the football.
Interceptions, fumbles, odd air-bending Charlie Brown and Lucy type comedic meltdowns, there was no limit in the fun and interesting ways that Irish signal-callers managed to place the ball in the other team's hands.
Notre Dame not only had a pair of 99-yard touchdown returns against it, but also managed to throw a pair of backward laterals that were recovered by the opposition.
The first job of the Irish quarterback is to protect the football. Golson proved that he is the best steward of the rock.
Further, Golson brings the perfect blend of run and pass ability to this offense. He can beat you deep if you play press to stop the run, he can attack the corners with his feet if you drop two-deep and prevent the deep ball. And he is accurate enough to pick holes in zone coverage.
He is the complete package.
Also, by playing the quarterback with the least experience, Kelly has set up a rather impressive three-deep at quarterback that would make most programs envious.
Andrew Hendrix would be the second man in should Golson succumb to injury or ineffectiveness. He has game experience and has shown an insanely strong arm as well as the ability to be a punishing runner.
After he serves his one-game suspension for a May drunk-and-disorderly arrest, junior Tommy Rees will make for a substantially above-average third-string quarterback.
With 16 starts under his belt, despite his ups and downs, he adds incredible value in the sense that few other teams have a third QB who has such a wealth of experience coupled with the emotional temperament to not let even the largest situation overwhelm him.
Golson, in his first address to the gathered press Thursday, remained humble, thanking his fellow quarterbacks for helping him along. He also realizes, as proven by the season opener a year ago where starter Dayne Crist was yanked at halftime, that he is only guaranteed to start for the first week.
Beyond that will depend upon whether or not he continues his improvement and becomes the player that a great number of people believe he can become.
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