Everyone needs a mentor in life.
For most, it's a father, an older brother, or even a grandparent. For the Notre Dame quarterbacks, it's whoever sits atop the depth chart as the No. 1 signal-caller in South Bend.
Jimmy Clausen came into the program as one of the most heralded recruits in the land. Unfortunately for him, he came as a skinny and vulnerable freshman slotted as the starting quarterback for most of the miserable 2007 season for the Irish. Without a mentor showing him the way, Clausen had to learn the hard way how to fit the mold of a Notre Dame quarterback.
Enter Dayne Crist. Another blond-haired, surfing Californian who was labeled with five-stars coming out of high school, who like Clausen, has plenty to live up to. The previous two Irish gun-slingers, Quinn and Clausen, have not only made their mark on Notre Dame record books, but both will have been taken in the first round after next month's NFL Draft.
However, with success comes failure. Just ask either of Crist's predecessors.
Crist will be facing expectations for instant success. Because of this, major bumps in the road could lead to disaster for Brian Kelly's new football team.
First and foremost, Crist has very little room for mistakes. Because he sat on the sidelines learning under the wing of Charlie Weis and Clausen himself, he will be expected to understand the schemes and playbook ready to be put into action against the 2010 opponents.
The stats and touchdowns will come along with experience, talent, and his recovery from a knee injury that will limit him in spring ball. However, what will be needed the most can only be learned through time under center--leadership.
As an upperclassmen, Quinn proved to be a born leader. Taking his team to back-to-back BCS appearances, it was clearly evident Quinn understood what it meant to lead a football team.
On the other hand, Clausen's biggest knock heading into next month's Draft is whether or not he can lead a football team. He showed great passion and stepped up in the clutch, but his maturity and team leadership skills always seemed to leave something to be desired.
Crist won't have to put up Clausen-like numbers in order for instant success.
Instead, combining the leadership skills and talent of his predecessors will put him on the path of victory-something found by Quinn and untraveled by Clausen.