The time has come to discuss the future.
It is believed by many that the next player in the RtR series will be the long-term answer at quarterback for the Fighting Irish. Does that mean we'll see a new starting quarterback against Navy this upcoming September?
So far, we've covered 6 freshmen who did not see the field in 2011:
Redshirt number seven is someone you most definitely should not sleep on.
Hometown: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Rivals: No. 16 dual-threat QB, No. 13 South Carolina
ESPN: No. 25 athlete, No. 4 South Carolina
Scout: No. 15 QB
247: No. 6 pro-style QB, No. 6 South Carolina
Need at Position: Extremely High
Expected Spot on 2012 Depth Chart: Significant playing time; possible day one starter
People who do not follow Notre Dame are probably a little puzzled as to why Irish fans are so excited about the future of Everett Golson. That's fair, since you look at his recruit rankings and they don't blow you away like Matt Barkley, Terrelle Pryor, or Jimmy Clausen's did.
However, Golson is a modern poster-child for how a lack of size will make you criminally underrated as a high school recruit.
Whereas Tommy Rees is the true overachiever and was a decent prospect without much of a resume coming out of high school, Golson came to Notre Dame as one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in American history.
Even Andrew Hendrix---who threw for just 2,973 yards and 19 touchdowns over his junior and senior seasons combined---had a resume at the prestigious Moeller High School that pales in comparison to Golson.
Everett totaled 5,119 yards with 69 touchdown passes with only a ridiculous 4 interceptions on 489 pass attempts as an upperclassmen---and that is with Golson missing half his senior season with ankle and wrist injuries.
Golson's team won state titles in his sophomore and senior seasons, lost the state final his junior year, while he led Myrtle Beach to a 44-5 record over his high school career.
If practice makes perfect, Golson had plenty of it as a prep player while also having the added benefit of playing in a system nearly identical to Brian Kelly's offense. Everett stepped on campus last spring having started for four years at Myrtle Beach, throwing just 25 interceptions on 1,198 pass attempts, while adding 148 career touchdowns throws.
A year after a redshirt season, will Golson be ready to seriously challenge for the starting quarterback position at Notre Dame?
First let's talk about his size.
6'0" is probably a bit generous, but the bigger issue is Golson's weight.
Everett was officially listed at 185 pounds for the 2011 season, but I'd guess he weighed less than that. The main picture to this article is from the spring game and it wouldn't shock me if Golson was closer to 170 then---just look at that flac jacket---it looks like a linemen's waist was screwed on there.
Thus, I think it will be unrealistic for Golson to be 200 pounds as an underclassman, and maybe throughout his entire career. He's extremely skinny and doesn't have the frame in my estimation to put on a whole lot of weight.
With that said, he could eventually approach the 195 pound range that Denard Robinson plays at, which is more than enough to get the job done. Also remember, Golson isn't going to be running the ball 20 or 25 times a game and he will likely be limited to around 10 carries a game with hopefully a lot of sliding and angling out of bounds.
Golson's running ability and athleticism will open up the offense and add a dynamic that has been sorely lacking, but he will never be asked to put the offense on his legs in order to move the ball the way Denard Robinson has in the past.
Besides the size question (which isn't a huge deal at the college level) there aren't many issues with Golson, besides his lack of experience of course---and even that could be mitigated by the fact that he played in this exact offense in high school and has been a polished quarterback for nearly half a decade.
Golson has an inherent advantage that the other quarterbacks do not because he really is the perfect fit for Brian Kelly's offense: He's a highly mobile quarterback who is pass-first oriented and comes to campus with a ton of experience out of the spread. Although he lacks ideal size, his arm strength is very good, he shows nice touch on his throws, and he can stretch the field vertically with deep passes.
He was very skittish in the pocket during the spring game, but overall he has good footwork, sound mechanics with his throwing motion, with the coveted ability to get outside the pocket, buy time, still make accurate throws down field, or quickly scamper for a first down.
Some other talking points with Golson:
Golson was a highly accurate passer in high school and looked pretty good in this regard during last year's Blue-Gold game. His fade touchdown pass was beautifully executed and a tougher throw than most realize (Floyd nods his head in agreement), he put a seam route down field right on the money, and completed a couple more tough throws. From all accounts, his accuracy is there.
Obviously Golson is a tremendous athlete, but we'll have to wait and see just how dynamic of a runner he will be on the college level. He can be shifty and elusive, but it doesn't appear he has that top-end speed that some of the more explosive running quarterbacks utilize. My guess is he's more Taylor Martinez than Denard Robinson.
That's fine since it will allow Golson to focus on being a passer first, yet his speed could be the difference between a solid 350 yard season on the ground, and potentially twice as much.
After this past season's turnover-fest, you can bet special attention will be paid to Golson protecting the ball. Yet, you also have to admit the amount of turnovers, and more specifically, the timing of the turnovers simply can't get much worse than last year.
Golson was terrific at protecting the ball at Myrtle Beach H.S. so he should be competent at limiting turnovers at the next level. From coach Kelly's comments, it appears Golson has more of a fumbling problem than interceptions---I'd say it's much better to have the former problem.
Here's where Golson's experience should pay dividends as an underclassman. Will he be able to manage the game to the coach's desires? And will we automatically see a shift to the fast-paced no-huddle attack that has been lacking at Notre Dame, but for which Brian Kelly's offense is known for?
This will be something to keep an eye out for. If it is true that new OC Chuck Martin will rely more heavily on the ground game, that might make Golson's job much easier in terms of lessening his responsibilities and the constant reading of the defenses over an entire game---that is if he ends up starting.
Many thought Golson would be the future, but exactly when that future began no one was sure. When he came in last spring there was some wishful thinking that Everett would see the field, but he was smartly tagged with a redshirt and stuck at 4th string, running the scout team.
Heading into 2012, the path to starting couldn't have cleared much better for Golson.
Poor and inconsistent quarterback play hampered the Irish in 2011, and there may be a fresh start coming in the spring with Chuck Martin taking over the offensive-coordinator duties.
A vacuum now exists in which it appears the timing is perfect for Golson to make his move.
Golson should have ample opportunities to seize the job for Notre Dame this spring, and the coaching staff has to be seriously considering putting all their faith in him by the end of April. The Irish start off 2012 with two easier opponents, the coaching staff should feel very reluctant to keep Golson on the bench while his eligibility burns, and the team desperately needs a more explosive playmaker at quarterback.
Add it all up and No. 5 could be trotting out on to the field at Aviva Stadium in Ireland on September 1st.