Offseason Cheatsheet: Quarterbacks


As we count the days until Purdue week officially begins, let’s kick off another installment: The Offseason Cheatsheet. While most of you have been loyal readers and checking back multiple times each day, some of you are cramming for the Irish football season that’s 18 days away. Consider this your Du Lac approved crib-sheet for the upcoming season.


With the departure of three-year starter Jimmy Clausen to the NFL, the Irish depth chart lacks any quarterback with significant playing time. That said, the succession plan post-Clausen is falling into form with junior Dayne Crist ready to take the helm, albeit a season early than many Irish fans hoped. While his offseason was thrown a curve ball when a torn ACL suffered in mop-up time against Washington State ended his 2009 season in San Antonio, Crist rehabbed diligently through the winter, took every snap during spring drills, and is injury free and full-speed in fall camp. The battle to back up Crist starts with walk-on Nate Montana and early enrollee freshman Tommy Rees. Fellow freshman Andrew Hendrix and Luke Massa are also pushing for a spot on the depth chart, but both will likely preserve a year of eligibility this season.


Short a program? Here’s every quarterback listed on roster:

  No.       Name                   Yr.      Ht./Wt.      Hometown/High School
  10         Dayne Crist          Jr.      6-4/235     Canoga Park, CA (Notre Dame)
  12         Andrew Hendrix   Fr.      6-2/218     Cincinnati, OH (Moeller)
  13         Tommy Rees        Fr.      6-2/210     Lake Forest, IL (Lake Forest)
  14         Luke Massa         Fr.       6-4/215    Cincinnati, OH (St. Xavier)
  15         Brian Costello      Sr.       6-2/210    Pittsburgh, PA (Chartiers Valley)
  16         Nate Montana      Jr.       6-4/215    Concord, CA (De La Salle)
  17         Matthew Mulvey   Jr.       6-2/191    Del Mar, CA (La Jolla)


On Crist: “At the end of the day, this whole conversation can be in a few
words: Dayne Crist is getting better every day,” Kelly
said. “The rest of this other stuff? It’s good. But
it’s really going to focus on Dayne’s ability and the upshot is, he’s
doing a nice job.”

On Rees: “He’s really savvy. He’s a smart kid. He has those intangibles of a
quarterback relative to seeing things before they open up. He can
anticipate very well. The ball comes out of his hand.
I want to be careful in saying he’s not number two just because he was
here longer than the other two freshmen. I think I said at the outset,
he showed us early on that he can run this offense.”

On Montana: “Nate’s problem is he has a really good day and then a really bad day. I
got to get him more consistent because Tommy’s been really consistent.”

On Hendrix: “He’s got a very strong arm. I think what stands out about Andrew is
that he’s only been a starter for a year and a half. He has not played a
lot of football. His best football is clearly in front of him.”

On Massa: “Very smart, very disciplined. He’s 6’5″, 205 pounds. He’s going to be
really big. He’s going to be a strong player. He’s got great feet,
outstanding basketball player.”


In a perfect world, the only quarterback that sees the field this year for the Irish is Dayne Crist. If all goes well, expect Crist to receive some postseason kudos and begin next season in a similar position to Brady Quinn entering his senior season, in the conversation for a certain trophy that just gave Reggie Bush the stiff-arm. Other hunches: Expect Tommy Rees to supplant Nate Montana as the primary back-up to Crist by the middle of the season. With three freshman quarterbacks on the roster, don’t expect the Irish to take a quarterback in this recruiting class unless somebody really wows the staff. Even if there’s nobody in that recruiting slot this year, expect to say goodbye to one of the three freshman. Attrition and logic, along with a lack of playing time, means somebody will leave South Bend to pursue playing time at another school.


C+ With Crist on the top of the depth chart, it’s too hard to knock the Irish, but the depth chart behind him is scary, even if Kelly’s known for having a quarterback friendly system.


Kizer named MVP at annual ECHOES awards

@NDFootball Twitter

DeShone Kizer was named the Monogram Club’s Most Valuable Player for the 2016 season at the 96th annual Notre Dame football awards banquet. Kizer was voted team MVP by his teammates, after throwing for 2,925 yards and 26 touchdowns and rushing for 472 yards and eight scores.

He was one of 15 players honored with an award at the “ECHOES,” with the following accolades being given:

Equanimeous St. Brown, Offensive Player of the Year.
James Onwualu, Defensive Player of the Year
Greer Martini, Next Man In award
Drue Tranquill, Rockne Student-Athlete Award
Cole Luke, Nick Pietrosante Award
Isaac Rochell, Lineman of the Year
Quenton Nelson, Offensive Lineman of the Year
Scott Daly, Special Teams Player of the Year
Alex Bars, Newcomer of the Year, Offense
Nyles Morgan, Newcomer of the Year, Defense
Ben Stuttman, Scout Team Player of the Year, Offense
Jonathan Jones, Scout Team Player of the Year, Defense
Mark Harrell, Father Lange Iron Cross
Tyler Newsome, Irish Around the Bend



Notre Dame names 7 captains for 2017 team

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 17: Quenton Nelson #56 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates after a 10-yard touchdown reception by Corey Robinson against the USC Trojans in the fourth quarter of the game at Notre Dame Stadium on October 17, 2015 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Notre Dame named seven captains for the 2017 season, the most to wear the ‘C’ in school history. Quarterback DeShone Kizer, linebackers Greer Martini and Nyles Morgan, offensive linemen Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson, safety Drue Tranquill and walk-on receiver Austin Webster were all given the honor.

McGlinchey returns in the role, the 22nd different two-time captain in the program’s history. New to the job are the rest, including Kizer, who has yet to make a decision on if he’ll return for 2017 yet.

After worries about the team’s leadership heading into the 2016, the naming of captains in the immediate aftermath of the season is a change—Brian Kelly not naming his team’s official leaders into August training camp last year. It’s not an unprecedented move for Kelly (he named Harrison Smith and Michael Floyd team captains at the banquet following the 2010 season), though it points to some changes—some subtle, others not—that’ll likely take hold after a four-loss season.

Webster, a rising senior reserve wide receiver from California who has yet to register a stat in a Notre Dame uniform, made his debut as a sophomore in 2015 against UMass, is the first active walk-on to receive the honor.


Irish land blue-chip OL Aaron Banks

Tom Loy, Irish 247

Notre Dame received the commitment of 4-star offensive tackle Aaron Banks on Friday afternoon. Picking the Irish over a national offer list that included Michigan, Tennessee, and local programs USC and UCLA, the 6-foot-7, 335-pound Banks reminded all that even if the Irish only won four games this season, Harry Hiestand is still one of the premier offensive line coaches in the country.

Banks made the commitment from a ceremony at his high school in El Cerrito, California. And when he picked the Irish, he added to Notre Dame’s impressive offensive line haul, joining Dillan Gibbons, Joshua Lugg and Robert Hainsey — a key piece of the puzzle moving forward.

Banks is a consensus 4-star recruit and a Top 200 prospect. He took an official visit to Michigan in November, but has been a long-time target of Hiestand’s, visiting South Bend in September and welcoming Brian Kelly and Hiestand into his home after the USC game.

As a big recruiting weekend gets started at Notre Dame, the annual Echoes Awards will serve as the beginning of an important home stretch for a program without a bowl game. As Kelly still looks to lock in a defensive coordinator, not to mention other staff changes still in the air, Banks takes back some of the lost momentum, a key commitment heading into a holiday dead period before a furious finish leading into the first Wednesday in February.

Banks is No. 18 in the Irish recruiting class. He’s an early-enrollee, ready to hit campus within weeks and compete on the interior of the offensive line during spring ball.

Zaire says thank you to Notre Dame

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - SEPTEMBER 12: Quarterback Malik Zaire #8 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish rushes past defensive end Mike Moore #32 of the Virginia Cavaliers in the third quarter at Scott Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Charlottesville, Virginia. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish won, 34-27. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Big week for The Observer. Not just for its advertising revenues, but for the classy gesture that outgoing senior quarterback Malik Zaire made this week.

Thursday’s edition included a letter to the editor from Zaire, who took to the student newspaper not to make headlines around the internet, but rather to thank the university for his experience in South Bend.

While Zaire’s time at Notre Dame is drawing to a close, he will leave as a proud alum. So while he’ll play football next season at another university, Zaire wrote the following in Thursday’s issue:

Dear Notre Dame students and staff,

My life changed for the better the moment I stepped onto the University of Notre Dame’s beautiful campus. The one goal I had set in my mind to achieve was to become a better man, a Notre Dame man. After growing through many trials and triumphs, the thing I’ve learned most from my experience was that if you don’t believe in yourself first, then no one else will. I believed in becoming a better man and succeeding through any circumstance, and I can say that I’ve truly accomplished that. I often refer to the famous quote from the movie “Catch Me If You Can” that was well put by Frank Abagnale:

“Two little mice fell in a bucket of cream. The first mouse quickly gave up and drowned. The second mouse wouldn’t quit. He struggled so hard that eventually he churned that cream into butter and crawled out.”

I’ve put my heart, soul and passion into the University, the football program, the South Bend community and the Irish community worldwide. I have the unbelievable honor to represent this University to the fullest as a student and soon-to-be alumni. Thank you to the amazing students and staff that I’ve met through the years for helping me grow into the person I’ve always wanted to be. I love the Irish and will always be an Irish alum no matter where I go! I look forward to keeping in touch. Let’s change the world!

Go Irish!

Malik Zaire

Dec. 7

Zaire is expected to compete for a starting quarterback job next year as a graduate transfer. He’s reportedly taken a visit to Wisconsin and plans to visit North Carolina as well, just two of several programs on the radar as Zaire looks to step in and win a starting Power 5 job.