Everything seemed to be going in Notre Dame's favor.
Despite the stunning loss of Everett Golson for the 2013 season due to academic misconduct, the Irish's future at the most critical position was bright. Lead recruiter Bob Elliott and position coach Chuck Martin were making great strides with consensus Top 100 quarterback Kyle Allen of Desert Mountain High School in Scottsdale, Ariz.
After this weekend's Rivals Five-Star Challenge at Soldier Field in Chicago, where he will be joined by multiple Notre Dame commitments including Alex Bars, Elijah Hood and Sam Mustipher, Allen was scheduled to visit the Notre Dame campus. Between the interaction with a close-knit group of Irish pledges in Chicago and the campus visit to South Bend, Notre Dame loved its chances with Allen.
However, Monday brought some disappointing news, as Allen verbally committed to Texas A&M. Just like that, Notre Dame was back to square one in its quarterback recruiting. Where do the Irish go from here?
Freshman Malik Zaire is the only quarterback certain to be on Notre Dame's 2014 roster. It seems more likely than not that Golson will return, and senior Andrew Hendrix would be eligible for a fifth season, but the Irish can't afford to roll the dice.
While one 4-star prospect fell of the board Monday, another appeared just two days later, when Notre Dame offered Toledo, Ohio, product DeShone Kizer.
The University of Notre Dame just offered. #Irish 🍀🏈
— DeShone Kizer (@Dkizer_14) June 5, 2013
Just two hours down Interstate 80/90 from South Bend, Kizer also holds offers from Alabama, LSU, Michigan State, Tennessee and Wisconsin, among others.
Kizer is a dual-threat quarterback, who operates both spread-to-pass and zone-read schemes at Toledo Central Catholic (see highlights here). His arm strength isn't quite that of Golson, and his release is somewhat quirky. At 6'4", however, he stands four inches taller than Golson.
Other reported offers at the quarterback position include 4-star pro-style passer Jacob Park (Goose Creek, S.C.) and dual-threat 3-star Brandon Dawkins (Westlake Village, Calif.). Dawkins attends Oaks Christian, Jimmy Clausen's alma mater, while Park is from the same state from which Notre Dame signed Golson in 2011.
Park is less mobile than Kizer, but has elite arm strength. He's not Kizer in terms of pure athleticism, but he's not Tommy Rees either. Highlights from Park's junior season at Stratford H.S. can be viewed here.
Dawkins, who seemed ready to commit immediately following Golson's dismissal, may be a fallback plan at this point. He's likely not at the top of board, but the Irish could not afford to pass on a quarterback if their other targets fall through, given the uncertainty surrounding Golson and Hendrix's future.
Monday's news was just another link in a long chain of disappointments that has marred 2013 for Notre Dame. With quarterback commitments often coming one right after the other in domino-like fashion, it will be a critical month or two on the recruiting trail prior to the start of fall camp.
Both its 2011 (Golson) and 2012 (Gunner Kiel) quarterback signees are not currently on the roster. Depth is thin, and the future is cloudy. It's a problem Notre Dame didn't expect to have, but one that it can't afford not to solve.