Notre Dame has had more than its fair share of great quarterbacks, including some above-average ones during the BCS era. There may not be another position in college football that is more glorified than the Irish signal-caller, which is why everybody has an opinion when it comes to Everett Golson.
Where does he stack up when it comes to other Notre Dame quarterbacks since 1998?
With Golson, it is truly all about potential. That "P" word can drive coaches and fans crazy because sometimes players are never able to reach it and you are left wondering what could have been. Then there are the players who eventually blossom, but the space between being on the fence and finally clearing the hurdle can be frustrating for everybody involved.
After being removed from games on a consistent basis and displaying inconsistent play, Golson remains on the fence. He could easily become the best Irish quarterback of the BCS era, or he could become another forgotten name and be placed with the rest of the mediocre passers.
While everyone waits for that to be answered, here are some comparisons to other Notre Dame signal-callers who recently led the Irish.
Most Athletic by Far
One thing everybody should be able to agree on is the fact Golson is the most athletic quarterback Notre Dame has had during the BCS era. In fact, it may not be crazy to say that he is the most athletic this program has ever had. If you don't believe that to be true, Tony Rice came out and said Golson's skill set is better than his ever was. That is the same guy who rushed for nearly 2,000 yards and finished fourth in the 1989 Heisman voting.
The only quarterback who comes close to matching Golson in this department is Jarious Jackson, who played for the Irish from 1996 to '99. He spent his last two seasons racking up more than 900 total rushing yards and making plays like you see above. He was a shifty runner with terrific field vision, but he didn't have that explosiveness and burst that Golson has.
Finding rushing highlights from Golson was quite difficult considering he ran the ball less than 100 times and only totaled 298 yards. However, even a simple run against Oklahoma shows his explosion and the potential of his athletic ability.
In a designed run, Golson takes the snap and immediately hits the hole. Before the defensive end can get his hands on the left tackle, Golson is already in motion and making progress toward picking up the first down. He explodes through the hole, moves the chains with ease and would have scored if he wasn't tripped up by the safety.
Because of this explosive athletic ability and being capable of covering a lot of ground in a hurry, Golson was labeled an athlete coming out of high school by ESPN. Some believed he was fast enough to play wide receiver, while others thought he could see some time at safety. Either way, Golson is easily the most athletic quarterback Notre Dame has had in quite some time.
As a Passer
The most successful Notre Dame quarterbacks during the BCS era were Brady Quinn and Jimmy Clausen. They are the two biggest names, most known and had the most success because they were able to lead the team through the air. No matter how successful you are as a runner, a quarterback must have confidence in his arm and get the job done throwing the ball.
Quinn finished in the top five in the Heisman voting in both 2005 and 2006, while throwing for 11,762 career yards. Clausen played three seasons for the Irish and threw for 8,148 yards and 60 touchdowns.
Quinn had terrific field vision. He went through his progressions quickly, found the open receiver and delivered the ball where it needed to be. Clausen also saw the field well but possessed a stronger arm and was accurate with his throws. Both were considered the cream of the crop at the college level and were a lot more polished than Golson is at this point in his career.
But this is where the potential comes into play.
Seeing the field and making quicker decisions is not Golson's strength. However, Golson is patient in the pocket and can deliver a beautiful football when he isn't rattled.
A perfect example was against Miami on a third-down attempt. You can see the pressure is starting to get to him, but Golson has already had time to lock onto his target and is ready to deliver the football. The pressure and the fact the pocket is beginning to collapse isn't a big deal at this point.
Although there was tight coverage, Golson throws the ball up for an athletic Tyler Eifert. The ball is in perfect position for him to come down with it, and the defender couldn't have made a play even if he tried. It was a perfect strike, moved the chains for the Irish and showed just what this young quarterback is capable of when he has time and his mind is made up.
As for the questionable decision-making and struggling with his progressions, those are all things that can be ironed out with experience. The more time he spends in the pocket, the more comfortable he will be, and seeing the field will then be a lot easier. Once he sees the field better, Irish fans will have less gray hairs because the decisions will improve.
Golson has all of the tools to be as great as the other Irish quarterbacks who came before him. He just needs to get over the hump and finally fulfill that darn "P" word.