He firmly gripped the podium and stared into the eyes and camera lenses with a steely determination.
He delivered precise, straightforward answers. He appeared to the assembled media as a man on a mission, a man intent upon righting the disastrous wrong he made nearly one year ago.
And for the first time in his career, Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson carried himself with the type of confidence and limited bravado that may carry him back to the starting quarterback position that was rightfully his during the Irish's run to the 2013 BCS National Championship Game, a game that feels as if it was played a decade ago.
Golson, dressed in a gray Notre Dame polo, complete with more muscular, rippling arms protruding from the short sleeves, made it known he hasn't forgotten about that humbling defeat to Alabama in Miami on Jan. 7, 2013.
Rumblings about his habit of not throwing the football with the laces and other technical aspects of his game aside, Golson whetted the appetite of a championship-hungry fanbase by stating the No. 1 goal for both the program and himself is to return to college football's championship game.
The Myrtle Beach, S.C., native didn't mince words regarding the matter, and he shouldn't have; the motto of the program upon his return was undoubtedly "championship or bust." Say what you will about that ultimate goal, but the Irish have their sights clearly set on winning the first-ever College Football Playoff.
Yet to advance to that hollowed ground, Golson has to be a more efficient quarterback than he was in 2012, and that began with Notre Dame's spring practices on Monday morning. The first of 15 scheduled practice sessions was the first opportunity for Golson to showcase the work he put in during his time away from Notre Dame with noted quarterback guru George Whitfield.
It was with Whitfield in San Diego that Golson worked tirelessly to not only tighten his fundamentals and mechanics, but to sharpen his knowledge of the game, which was perhaps his most glaring weakness during the 2012 season.
It didn't take long for those training sessions to prove their worth, as head coach Brian Kelly addressed the assembled media throng within the confines of the Isban Auditorium at the Guglielmino Athletics Complex on campus.
There's a conceptual awareness that he had lacked sometimes. When he explained his progression [of reads before], it might take him 10 seconds. Well, you have 2.6 seconds throw the ball. Now he's precise in his communication. That tells me a lot.
Kelly has never been one to sugarcoat anything within his program, which gives his praise of Golson added significance.
With his dual-threat ability combined with much firmer mental grasp of the game, Golson could become the explosive player the Irish can center their offense on, and that's what he needs to be—an unquestioned leader both on and off the field.
Kelly told reporters as much:.
But I think we all know college football and where it is—the quarterback is really going to be the centerpiece of this offense and the way we run it. It's going to fall on him. We all live in the same world when it comes to the Notre Dame quarterback. We're going to heap a lot on this kid's shoulders.
And he knows that. That's why he came back to Notre Dame, because he wants that. Clearly, he's going to be the one that drives this for us.
Essentially, Golson will be to the 2014 Irish what the defense was in 2012—the driving force behind a run to a championship.
And if his steely resolve to begin his redemption tour at Notre Dame says anything, it's that he and the Notre Dame program aren't settling for anything less.
Let the games begin.
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