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QB depth chart thinning as Massa moved to wide receiver

Feb 14, 2011, 3:23 PM EDT

Luke Massa

With word last week that junior quarterback Nate Montana was considering a transfer to D-IAA Montana, it appears that the quarterback depth chart that was six-deep is now down to a four-man race.

Rising sophomore quarterback Luke Massa, who along with Andrew Hendrix and Tommy Rees joined the Irish in the 2010 signing class, will shift to wide receiver for spring practice. Massa spent last season working as a scout team quarterback along with Hendrix.

Head coach Brian Kelly made it clear that changes were coming at the quarterback depth chart, as only four quarterbacks would get reps during the upcoming spring practices. With Dayne Crist on track to participate after recovering from another knee surgery, Tommy Rees putting together a strong freshman campaign, and early-entrant quarterback Everett Golson giving the Irish their best spread quarterback option, Massa was likely lumped with Montana and Hendrix as the fourth quarterback to get snaps during spring. The coaching staff and Kelly have long been intrigued by Hendrix’s potential and it looks as if they’ll give him every opportunity to win the quarterback job after spending a freshman year learning from the sidelines, something that got tougher to do as the depth chart thinned.

Massa’s a big-bodied kid, listed on the Irish roster at 6-foot-4, 215-pounds and he has the opportunity to grow even larger, as Kelly mentioned on signing day last year when he inked his letter-of-intent. Massa also starred as a high school basketball player at St. Xavier High School and could give the Irish some match-up opportunities as he learns the position and exploits his size. While the depth chart at tight end is full, it’s a place that Massa could also end up, depending on how much weight strength coach Paul Longo can put on the relatively lanky youngster.

The news of Massa’s move, something that likely will be officially acknowledged when the Irish open spring practice, helps clarify one of the storylines to follow during spring camp, where an infusion of four quarterbacks in the last two recruiting classes likely presents challenges for Kelly and his offensive staff as they balance roster needs and the ability for players to see the field. Massa’s move to wide receiver likely quells any rumors of another quarterback transfer, with Montana’s uncertain status on the team the only question mark at the position.

  1. bluegoldnation - Feb 14, 2011 at 7:48 PM

    and early-entrant quarterback Everett Golson giving the Irish their best spread quarterback option, Massa was likely lumped with Montana and Hendrix as the fourth quarterback to get snaps during spring.

    Really? You think that Golson is already the third QB on the depth chart without taking a snap at QB? My guess is that he is coming in as a distant fourth but has the potential to quickly make up ground. This QB situation is MOST intriguing this year.

    You have Dayne Crist who has the tools but there is a question of whether or not he has the intangibles on the field.

    You have Tommy Rees who has the intangibles and accuracy but at this point in his career lacks the big arm to make all of the throws at an elite level.

    You have Andrew Hendrix who supposedly has the size, the arm and the mobility but he is the unknown commodity since we have only heard about him.

    And you have Everett Golson who is the prototypical spread QB with the arm, the legs, the accuracy and the experience in the spread. However he is just a freshman and at this point needs to hit the weight room to put on the size he needs to be able to take the punishment that a D-1 spread option QB has to take.

    Four guys that you could make a case to be the starter. The player with the least physical tools has proven the best steward of Kelly’s offense, this should be a fun spring.

    • tedlinko - Feb 15, 2011 at 12:33 PM

      I didn’t read Keith as ranking the QBs at all. He was just talking about who would be the 4 QBs to get reps in Spring ball. Clearly, based on last year, Crist (if healthy) and Rees are two. BK recruited Golson to run the spread that he likes to run (and he’s the only guy on the roster who fits that mold) so it stands to reason that he’ll be one of the 4. That left one slot for the other three guys.

      That said, i agree with you that Golson has the potential to move up fast — if nothing else, I think BK will find ways to use him situationally.

      I think the really interesting part is with the other guys. You are correct about Hendrix being unknown (to us) but he’s certainly not unknown to the coaching staff. Rees had the upper hand last fall, given that he’d enrolled early, but if Hendrix is as talented as it sounds, he may push Rees. We just haven’t seen it because of a strategic decision on the part of the coaching staff to preserve a year of eligibility.

    • bernhtp - Feb 15, 2011 at 3:17 PM

      This will be the position to watch in the spring. Rees’ early start and reputed high football IQ is what likely moved him to the top of the depth chart last year. It will be fascinating to see if Hedrix’s physical capabilities or Golson’s fitness for the spread enable them to effectively compete for the starting job given the experience of Crist (assuming continued recovery) and Rees. With that said, I do expect Crist and Rees to have the starting roles in the Blue-Gold game, but would not be surprised if we got a really good look at Hexdrix and Golson with almost equal minutes.

  2. mattnef - Feb 14, 2011 at 9:19 PM

    Anybody know his 40 time?

    • dearborndan - Feb 16, 2011 at 4:01 PM

      During recruiting his 40 time was listed at 4.7, which isn’t bad when you realize he’s 6’3″ and over 220.

      • dearborndan - Feb 16, 2011 at 4:19 PM

        For Hendrix…

      • dearborndan - Feb 16, 2011 at 4:23 PM

        Golson was listed at 4.7 also

  3. ndfootballfan4life - Feb 14, 2011 at 10:54 PM

    i think massa moving to WR will be good for the Irish a year or two down the road once Floyd graduates. I’m curious about Hendrix. I’ve never seen the kid play, but he’s got a lot of hype from what I read here. The only thing that concerns me about Golson is that he only stands at 6’0″. We will see how he fares against D-1 defenses. I still think this is Crist’s job to lose.

  4. dearborndan - Feb 16, 2011 at 4:18 PM

    Christ has a gun, decent mobility, and was making good progress before he was hurt. I can’t see him not getting the first shot at starting.

    Hendrix has had a year to learn, has had the staff see him all last year, and from the staff they say he has the more impressive arm of anybody on the staff. He has college size and above average mobility. If anyone takes Christ’s place I’d bet on Hendrix.

    Golson looks great on film, and 6’0″ for a college spread guy is no big deal – they don’t sit in a pocket to find passing lanes anyway. He does need some weight just to take the beating, so don’t be surprised the his potential Wildcat use is shelved for a redshirt/learning/weightlifting option.

    As for Rees, he has the weakest arm and least mobility of the four QB’s here. And for all his winning, he had tons of interceptions, threw into coverage a lot, and got bailed out by Floyd on numerous throws. I have a hard time believing Hendrix wouldn’t have been able to take the scaled back playbook and renewed emphasis on the run and do just as well or better, or that you should sit better talent because Rees has the “intangibles.” I love how Rees stepped in, but his success was more on the coaches than on his leadership & athletic abilities. I don’t see that happenning again with the talent in front of him.

    Good article, can’t wait for spring.

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