Last November, Everett Golson was at the forefront of Notre Dame's offensive attack during the final stages of a journey to the national title game. This year, the former Fighting Irish quarterback is attempting to return to a university where he showed so much promise.
Golson, a 6'0", 185-pound product of Myrtle Beach, S.C., has formally applied for readmission at Notre Dame, according to FOX Sports. School administration suspended him for the fall semester, citing a violation of the university's undergraduate academic honor code.
Months after the redshirt freshman led Notre Dame to its first BCS national championship game appearance, the exciting young playmaker found himself exiled from the Fighting Irish for cheating. With his return potentially nearing on the horizon—an admissions decision is expected in mid-December—it's an appropriate time to wonder how Golson's reinstatement would impact the team, on and off the field.
It would surely present head coach Brian Kelly and his staff with an intriguing option behind center. Senior quarterback Tommy Rees is in the last stretch of his collegiate career, and Golson showed plenty of promise in his first year as a starter, tallying 2,700 total yards and 18 touchdowns (six rushing).
The infusion of a dynamic player like Golson into the offense will also have a role in Notre Dame's recruiting efforts. If he is indeed reinstated, the quarterback will be back on campus with the team weeks before national signing day.
Quarterback DeShone Kizer (Toledo, Ohio) committed to the Fighting Irish in June. The 6'5", 207-pound passer is a 4-star prospect with a much different skill set than Golson. He is at his best in the pocket, although he possess impressive scrambling capabilities.
Kizer, who visited Notre Dame in October, is the kind of player who could potentially compete for playing time as a freshman. He picked the Fighting Irish from an offer list that features Penn State, LSU, Tennessee, Nebraska and Alabama.
Golson's presence isn't likely to discourage him from sticking with Notre Dame. However, it's worth noting the team's situation at the position changes greatly if Golson returns.
Kizer could be looking at an open competition in 2014, with limited experience throughout the quarterback depth chart. Golson, who went unbeaten during his lone regular season, certainly alters that scenario.
Meanwhile, it's possible to see an increased level of interest from running backs and wide receivers upon Golson's return. He showed flashes of superstar abilities in 2012, looking like the kind of player other offensive weapons want to be around.
Notre Dame already holds commitments from 4-star receivers Justin Brent (Indianapolis, Ind.) and Corey Holmes (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) but remains in pursuit of several pass-catchers. Tyler Luatua (La Mirada, Calif.) is ranked the nation's No. 2 tight end by 247Sports and has the Fighting Irish in his final mix.
Meanwhile, 5-star athlete John Smith (Long Beach, Calif) may view the addition of Golson as an advantage in his recruitment process.
There will be some parents, and perhaps even prospects, who will question Kelly if he allows a known cheater to return to the team. That's a subject he and the entire coaching staff should be prepared to address.
However, Golson's presence ultimately makes Notre Dame a more appealing destination for athletes looking to join an exciting offense. Academic issues aside, he is a proven difference-maker on the football field.
Golson is closing in on the answer of whether he'll be back in a Notre Dame uniform after a season-long suspension. If he gets the green light, keep an eye on how it affects Fighting Irish fortunes on the recruiting trail.
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