In days past, the University of Notre Dame’s football program was revered. The Fighting Irish were head and shoulders above the rest of the nation; they and they alone represented the pinnacle of all collegiate football programs. Notre Dame was the first “America’s Team”. They took on any and all challengers from coast to coast, conquering all that stood in their path a la Manifest Destiny. In this way, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish were the embodiment of the quintessential american ideals.
However, the upsetting pattern in the preceding description should be noted. Notre Dame was on top of the world. The program has unfortunately fallen from its former high status. A plethora of rule changes, poor hires, and “so close” seasons have contributed to that fall from glory. Naturally, this is what happens when a program fails to win a national championship in over three decades.
Fans of the program have been deprived of the expected success of a program that was once a perennial championship contender. Of course, there have been stretches of time in the past in which the Irish fell off, but it has never been quite this long. This is new territory for our beloved university, and its a territory we all hope to soon leave behind.
Many would agree that the most important piece to a championship winning team is the right quarterback. AJ McCarron was the perfect game manager for Alabama Crimson Tide in 2012 and 2013, Charlie Ward was the perfect dual threat enigma for Florida State Seminoles in 1993, and Tony Rice was the perfect option-running menace for Notre Dame in 1988. This is where Brandon Wimbush comes in.
Before I get ahead of myself, let me preface: I would be out of my mind to think that Wimbush alone can and will manufacture a return atop the college football landscape. However, Wimbush looks to me to be the most talented quarterback Notre Dame has had since Rice himself. Yes, more talented than DeShone Kizer, Jarious Jackson, Jimmy Clausen, and Brady Quinn. This is unproven, yet I believe Wimbush’s innate talents supersede the aforementioned quarterbacks and his development could allow him to rise even further. It is for this reason that he may be the ultimate difference maker.
The combination of Chip Long’s RPO (Run-Pass Option) scheme and Kelly’s spread scheme align perfectly with Wimbush’s unique skill set. In addition to being an impressive track and field sprinter (10.8 seconds in the 100 meter and 22 seconds in the 200 meter) Wimbush has a cannon attached to his torso where an arm should go.
That is absolutely ridiculous. How quickly that comes out of Wimbush’s hand and how far that ball flies is beautiful. The arm strength he exhibits with that throw is insane, to say the least.
More important than his natural ability is Brandon Wimbush’s intangibles. This is a kid that has his head on straight. He’s not headstrong like Malik Zaire, but he is confident; the stage isn’t too big for him like it was for Everett Golson, but he does respect the stage; he doesn’t psyche himself out when he doesn’t win like DeShone Kizer, he learns from it. On top of all that, however, is that he has shown to be a winner.
Wimbush had to bide his time until his junior season at St. Peter’s Prep just like he has at Notre Dame. When he finally got the reigns in high school over his last two seasons, he led his team to a 22-3 record and a New Jersey state championship. It was Wimbush that was the difference maker for the St. Peter’s Prep Marauders. He has the potential, along with a fantastic opportunity, to be the same kind of difference maker for the Irish in this upcoming season.
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish will field a multitude of talented players this year. Julian Love, Nick Coleman, Nyles Morgan, Tevon Coney, Daelin Hayes, Jerry Tillery, Mike McGlinchey, Quenton Nelson, Alizé Mack, Equanimeous St. Brown, Miles Boykin, Chase Claypool, Josh Adams, Dexter Williams, and Tony Jones all surround Wimbush. All of those players are extremely talented and create a solid group for him to work with. It is Wimbush, though, that will be the final difference maker, and I am entirely comfortable with that. When the ball is in his hands, the right plays will be made.
The pieces of the puzzle all fit together for this Notre Dame team to run the table. The talent is exceptional, the new coaches have the pedigree, and the team appears to be as tight-knit as they get. Now, it’s a matter of the face of this team making the plays to get Notre Dame back to its place among the best in college football. Brandon Wimbush is the man for the job. He can be the savior for this program. He can be the man that brings a national championship back to South Bend. He can be the hero Irish fans deserve.