While Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly touched on a number of topics relevant to the upcoming season during his initial fall camp press conference Friday afternoon, he spent a few minutes discussing matters beyond 2013.
As was expected, questions concerning the status of former starting quarterback Everett Golson—the Myrtle Beach, S.C., native was suspended for the fall semester due to what he referred to as "poor academic judgment" (h/t Huffington Post)—were raised, and Kelly was quick to answer.
Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) August 2, 2013
This comment was the first concrete statement from Kelly or any member of his coaching staff concerning Golson's return to Notre Dame, and if true, could throw the 2014 starting quarterback battle on its head.
Making matters more interesting was Kelly's revelation that offensive coordinator Chuck Martin has been in constant contact with Golson since his suspension.
#NotreDame's Brian Kelly: Expect Everett Golson back in Jan. Plan will be in place this fall. Says OC Chuck Martin talks w/ him nearly daily— Matt Fortuna (@Matt_Fortuna) August 2, 2013
All things considered, the return of Golson to Notre Dame is imminent.
Even Golson himself seemed more than confident about returning to Notre Dame during an interview with WPDE News at a charity basketball game in his hometown last month.
While the details of the "plan" for Golson likely won't be revealed, Irish fans should should be content with the depth of the quarterback position going forward. However, Kelly should exercise caution, despite the positivity with which he spoke about Golson's return.
While nitpicking words and phrases may be a stretch, the key word to take away from Kelly's statement is "expect."
Kelly didn't warrant Golson's return as a certainty or a guarantee. All the fourth-year head coach offered was for the fans and media to simply expect it, and any living individual can speak to the disappointment of not having expectations met.
Thus, Kelly must continue to prepare for life beyond 2013 without Golson.
As a successful head coach—Kelly is one victory shy of 200 for his career—he understands and recognizes the importance of being prepared for any given situation, and that means getting true freshman quarterback Malik Zaire as many reps this season as possible with the 2014 season in mind.
Kelly testified to that notion when asked about Zaire.
Q. What are the plans for Malik Zaire? A. We want to keep him with the starters, he needs to get that first hand knowledge with the offense.— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) August 2, 2013
Entering 2014, Tommy Rees will be graduated and Andrew Hendrix will be foregoing his fifth season of eligibility to attend medical school, leaving Zaire as the only certain presence on the depth chart at quarterback.
And Kelly knows that with Golson's return still just an expectation, he can't enter the 2014 without an experienced quarterback on the roster.
Now, 2014 commit DeShone Kizer, a 4-star prospect, per 247 Sports could very well be a part of the rotation should he sign his National Letter of Intent to Notre Dame in February, the end result being a trio of Kizer, Zaire and, potentially, Golson.
Essentially, should those three suit up one year from now, the race for starting duties would come down to Golson and Zaire, a battle that would be all too entertaining to witness unfold.