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Zaire ready to test himself at Elite 11 camp

Jul 19, 2012, 12:13 PM EDT

Malik Zaire

As the summer circuit comes to a close and college recruits get ready to going back to the business of actually playing high school football, Irish commitment Malik Zaire is in Redondo Beach, California to test himself against some of the best prep quarterbacks in the country.

One part quarterback competition, one part reality television show, the Elite 11 is the one  offseason camp with some actual pedigree. With nearly a dozen first round picks since its inception and notables like Tim Tebow, Vince Young, Matt Leinart, Mark Sanchez, Matthew Stafford and Matt LoVecchio (it’s true), the camp is a great training ground for one of college football’s most pressure packed position.

An impressive group of quarterbacks are in Los Angeles’ South Bay, where I can attest to beautiful weather and an especially crisp and clear day today. Of the 25 quarterbacks competing to be a part of the Elite 11 finals, 24 of those quarterbacks are already committed to a college, just another datapoint pointing to the accelerated recruiting timeline that’s taken over college football.

For Zaire, it’s another opportunity to help springboard the Irish commit to a solid senior season after flashing raw talent during his junior campaign. We’ve written about how impressive he’s been this summer before, but with some good instruction, plenty of technological gizmos, and a big stage, Zaire will get a glimpse of the pressure cooker that surely awaits him.

Catching up with the South Bend Tribune’s Tyler James before he took off for California, Zaire sounded confident.

“I want to see some of these other guys that everybody’s been talking about,” Zaire told James. “I know I can compete and keep up with them and make throw for throw with some of these guys. I’m very confident in the fact that I can go in there and come out on top.”

Early reviews on Zaire have been mostly positive, with his athleticism and silky smooth left-handed release impressing. We’ll have a chance to watch the action for ourselves when ESPNU televises the finals in August.

That the Irish would be able to lure one of the nation’s top dual-threat quarterbacks, especially with a depth chart filled with young talent like Gunner Kiel and Everett Golson, says a lot about the effort Brian Kelly and his staff put in, not to mention the character of Zaire.

Whether or not he wins this made-for-TV spectacle, that he’s even competing says plenty about the future Irish quarterback.


  1. nudeman - Jul 19, 2012 at 12:38 PM

    I would start him today instead of …

    … never mind

    • jerseyshorendfan1 - Jul 19, 2012 at 2:16 PM

      LOFL. I’ll second that motion.

  2. mmcss690 - Jul 19, 2012 at 6:44 PM

    Come on Nude, you know he doesn’t know the playbook.

    • joeschu - Jul 20, 2012 at 9:20 AM

      Or get guys lined up nearly fast enough.

    • nudeman - Jul 20, 2012 at 3:00 PM

      Apparently only BK and Rees do

  3. ohioirishfan - Jul 19, 2012 at 8:20 PM

    The problem is that Tommy knows the play book but cannot run most of it because of his lack of mobility…

    Only thing keeping me excited is the possibility of Golson starting.

    • don74 - Jul 19, 2012 at 11:02 PM

      Visualization techniques have been proven to increase and enhance athletic performance. Perhaps TR can be coached to visualize the SBPD when he feels the need to run…….

      • tflotto - Jul 20, 2012 at 1:17 AM

        Uhhhhhhhhhhh he got caught last time?!?!?

  4. bearcatirishfan - Jul 19, 2012 at 8:32 PM

    I think we should move him to defensive line to replace lynch……right nude :-)

    • nudeman - Jul 19, 2012 at 11:54 PM

      I think we should move him to scout team

      Seriously, if you look at the trajectory in terms of “TR Love”, it isn’t pretty
      Peaked last year around the MSU game
      Since then there have been about 10% less advocates every week
      Now we’re down to about 9 people nationwide who believe in Rees
      His mom, his dad, his hot sister, and a few others

      Unfortunately one of them is Kelly

      God save us

      • irish4006 - Jul 20, 2012 at 12:13 PM

        Disagree on a couple of levels –
        1. There was plenty of “believers” up until we blew the FSU game. Seriously, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise. There were plenty of similarities with the UM game in the first 3 quarters (shutting down their O, scoring a few points, missing out on numerous others due to a horrible QB etc.) that the loss was just the natural outcome. There were believers in the off-season, although a bit less than during the season. There will likely be a few who will argue how big of a mistake it was to bench your potential 3 year starter when the season rolls around and Golson makes a few mistakes in the first couple of games. IIRC, even Keith (Sorry, Keith! I love your work, but this is one point where I disagree with you.) was telling us a couple of month ago how our offense would be “just fine” if Tommy develops the deep ball.
        You don’t see those people around the message board only because they are not as crazy about ND football (maybe sports in general) as you. They will be back when the season starts. Case in point, there was a poster on this board (trbowman) who I suspected was Tommy’s mother. It was probably Tommy himself. I don’t see him anymore, I would keep an eye on the noobs… maybe he will emerge with a new name.

        2. I haven’t seen anything in the post season that indicates Kelly is one of those 9 people, I have seen plenty to suggest otherwise. I would hold off on bashing him for now. I don’t read too much into the negative comments he made about EG, you want your QB to be ready and work on the defficiencies. It doesn’t mean an automatic start for TR.

      • nudeman - Jul 20, 2012 at 12:41 PM

        I most respectfully disagree with:
        1. The number of believers decreased significantly after the Stanford game. No one was willing to bet a dime Kelly would start Rees against FSU. I actually figured he would and was right.
        2. The progression of the anti TR rants went something like this:
        – After BC game: 75 decibels (approx equal to sound of a toilet flushing)
        – After Stanford game: 90 decibels (poorly tuned V8 engine)
        – After FSU game: 140 decibels: (737 roaring ~ 3 feet over your house)
        – After BG game: 250 Think Fallujah, 2004 + Hiroshima August 1945
        3. You suspect trbowman as a TR relative; I suspect Keith. In addition to the comment you cited, he’s written recently that “Tommy as a play action QB wouldn’t be a terrible option”. He has written some crazy things supporting Rees.
        4. You are correct about BK. He really hasn’t said or done anything to tip his hand. I’m just going off his maddening TR loyalty from last year.

  5. nd4life - Jul 19, 2012 at 8:40 PM

    My only concern is that there is going to be a revolving door at quarterback for the next three years. But I do have to hand it to Kelly and crew as they are recruiting the heck out the quarterback position; getting this kind of talent to commit, when there is so much competition at QB.

    • joeschu - Jul 20, 2012 at 9:31 AM

      Any decent program is going to have a “stud” QB per graduating year. If you look at our pipeline right now, you have a pretty nice setup. If BK doesn’t throw Dayne under a bus, you’ve got EG burning this year as his backup (TR and AH are red hat army all the way) and Gunner wearing a lovely shade of red shirt. Then you have a real competition next year between EG (who would get snaps behind DC this year) and GK in the first year that he burns any eligibility while Zaire gets a year to acclimate. If EG wins it outright in that year and performs, we get 2 more years of goodness with GK being cast in an unfortunate backup role until his senior year. If EG is shaky, GK gets his chance.

      Look at it more as pipeline than revolving door. Injuries alone force you to have a good stable of QB talent, and it feels like with EG, GK, and MZ, we’re finally getting there.

      • irish4006 - Jul 20, 2012 at 12:24 PM

        Agree with joe, just think USC… Palmer, Leinert, Booty, Sanchez, Barkley. The 3 before Barkley didn’t get a lot of playing time but ended up in the NFL anyway. In between, there were a few very good ones who didn’t even get to play (Cassel, Mustain). It’s not a revolving door. If you are a quarterback coming out of high school thinking about starting your freshman year and heading to NFL after junior year (Jimmy Claussen is a good example. How well has it turned out for him or ND?), that is not generally good news for the program. There should always be a junior/senior in the wings to take over when the current stud graduates. Crist was that guy, too bad it didn’t work out.
        If you are one who is obsessed with statistics and breaking career records and such, I don’t think that is RKG for any program. You will play when the team needs you and you are ready to step up, not because you think you are the sh*t.

      • dmac4real - Jul 20, 2012 at 12:47 PM

        Please elaborate on how BK thrown DC under the bus.

      • irish4006 - Jul 20, 2012 at 12:55 PM

        I don’t think BK threw DC under the bus on purpose. He just didn’t have the confidence in him. Crist had his opportunities (I would say he deserved a little more), but didn’t work out. He made some mistakes, got injured a couple of times; it was just things not coming together. I liked him way better than TR and was willing to live with his mistakes a little longer, but Kelly didn’t feel the same way. He saw something that we didn’t and went with Tommy. I don’t think it was his special affection for TR, maybe just that he thought he could make him into the QB he needs to win.

      • joeschu - Jul 23, 2012 at 6:45 PM

        Pulled him after a bad half so that Rees could have a series of bad halves.

  6. idratherbeinsouthbend - Jul 20, 2012 at 12:16 AM

    I’m like anyone else around here. If it was my choice, i’d throw Golson in and pray. BUT…If TR wins the job, you ALL need to let it play out. There’s no reason why he can’t excel at the position….

    I know NUDEY…Scream at the top of your lunges about his past performance, but I posted the stats before….the biggest improvement for college QB’s historically is undoubtedly between their 2nd and 3rd year.

    Consider the fact that in order for TR to win the job, he’s got to overcome whatever discipline he is handed AND be considerably better than Golson and Kiel (I think it’s safe to say that Hendrix is an afterthought now).

    I agree with NUDEY’s assessments of TR, but you’re talking about HISTORY….and history happens in the past.

    • audomer - Jul 20, 2012 at 9:32 AM

      lunges…..i didn’t even know Nude worked out!!

    • joeschu - Jul 20, 2012 at 9:36 AM

      Sadly, I’m in agreement with Hendrix fading in to the background. I had a lot of hope for him, but I’m just not sure it is going to click.

      Here are the 2 sides of the coin:

      Nude (and me): Personal history is a stronger indicator of future results than statistical averages.

      You: History across a wide sample of QB’s gives you confidence to ignore the individual’s personal past performance.

      I think you can flip it… total 50/50. I guess we’ll see in 42 days.

      • nudeman - Jul 20, 2012 at 10:46 AM

        I don’t buy the 2nd to 3rd year improvement angle for Rees. His performance got worse with each game last year and the last 4 games (BC, Stanford, FSU, Spring game) were unwatchable.

        On the other hand, if you take someone like Jimmy Clausen or Brady Quinn, it was very obvious they were improving in year 2 and you could see a monster year 3 coming. They also had physical skills that are/were in another stratosphere from Rees. And to my knowledge, neither pouted and exhibited the complete lack of leadership under adversity as Rees. We might as well be comparing Bob Avellini and Johnny Unitas.

        Here’s another issue: How deflating will it be if Rees starts in Dublin?

        I got to the point in the last year of CW where I actually wanted ND to lose to ensure his departure. I won’t be pulling against them against Navy and Purdue, but the last thing I want to see is a resurrection of the “Tommy is 32-0 as a starter” crowd (currently numbering 3, nationwide). The guy can NOT play at this level. Have I made myself clear here, people?

        If Golson and Hendrix can’t beat out Tommy Rees, they should be released from their scholarships. That can’t be done immediately of course, but really … why keep them around after this year for any reason other than emergency depth?

      • irish4006 - Jul 20, 2012 at 12:32 PM

        There is a thing called talent, either you have it or you don’t. Any guesses for TR? This 2 year vs. 3 year analysis, please take it straight to the shredder. It may be applicable to QBs worthy of starting at a D1 school, but not to any Tommy/Dicky/Harry you decide to put in the game to take snaps.

        I agree with Nude’s comment on Jimmy and Brady. Jimmy was the no. 1 QB out of high school (naturally gifted) and Brady had all the physical attributes plus the work ethic that took them so high.

        If only we had a defense or a good coach, they were the QBs to take us places. Too bad we had neither.

      • dmac4real - Jul 20, 2012 at 12:51 PM

        Gotta remember BQ was not very good (at all) his frosh and soph year.

      • dmac4real - Jul 20, 2012 at 12:54 PM


        What do you mean when you say “And to my knowledge, neither pouted and exhibited the complete lack of leadership under adversity as Rees”…?

      • irish4006 - Jul 20, 2012 at 1:05 PM

        BQ wasn’t that bad in his sophomore season, this is from –

        “2004 (SOPHOMORE): Produced the finest statistical sophomore season of any quarterback in Notre Dame history … started all 12 games at quarterback … completed 191 of 353 pass attempts for 2,586 yards with 17 TD passes and 10 interceptions … had 11 completions of at least 40 yards or more … rushed for three TDs … finished second on the Notre Dame single-season passing yards list (2,586 – trailing only Jarious Jackson’s 2,753 in 1999)”

        He made a lot of mistakes in the freshman year, was on the way up from his sophomore season and exploded in years 3 and 4 under CW.

      • nudeman - Jul 20, 2012 at 1:51 PM

        “What do you mean when you say “And to my knowledge, neither pouted and exhibited the complete lack of leadership under adversity as Rees”…?”


        What I mean is that Quinn and Clausen were tough guys who didn’t pout when they had adversity like Rees did. Clausen was a little controversial because of his cockiness, but frankly a QB needs to be cocky. Hardly a bad thing. He and Quinn got creamed when they first entered the lineup. Both rode it out and both excelled. My memory of both is of tough guys who earned their accolades.

        Tommy Rees has exhibited bad behavior on a number of occasions.
        1) He pouted after the Stanford game because he (FINALLY) got yanked, and turned off his Twitter account.
        2) Against FSU he was roundly criticized for the final dumb INT but more so for the body language that said “I give up”. That came from several who were at the game and saw more of what went on on the sidelines than we did on TV, including Tim Prister of Irish Illustrated. Then after he stunk up the joint in the BG game, he barked at a reporter who asked about his INT (a typical lob into triple coverage) “If it was 6 inches lower you wouldn’t be asking me about an INT”.

        Maybe I’m too hard on the kid but in addition to lacking the skills, I think he’s an immature, petulant kid with an attitude of entitlement. Maybe that comes from being a coach’s son. Dunno. But not a true leader at all. He thinks he DESERVES the job. The rest of us see someone who’s played QB at ND in 2 years with zero accountability for his bad play. Who else gets that kind of break? Sorry. I don’t like him as a QB and he doesn’t impress me as a mature young man.

      • dmac4real - Jul 20, 2012 at 1:55 PM

        Wow. Youre right. I was wrong, but i thought I remembered him having a real bad year. Thats not amazing, but nothing to bad.

        That said, for comparison:

        Tommy Rees: 2011 Notre Dame 12 Games 253 completions 384attempts 65.9 completion % 2,708 yards 19TD 12 INT 7.1 YPA..

        Thats not that bad either.

      • irish4006 - Jul 20, 2012 at 2:22 PM

        On the basis of stats alone, may not be too bad (he actually had 20 TD and 14 INT, including the FSU game). You have to remember, Samardzija did not arrive on the scene big time until BQ’s 3rd year, I can’t even remember who we had at receiver or TE in Quinn’s 2nd year (Stovall and Fasano? TE wasn’t used as effectively in TW system as it was in CW). Yes, we do tend to weigh more heavily on his 3rd/4th year performance, but it he was clearly on the way up. A lot of the credit also goes to CW who developed him into a really really good QB (from an okay quarterback).

      • irish4006 - Jul 20, 2012 at 2:34 PM

        Also, do not ignore the fact that, TR had 7 fumbles (5 lost) and -28 yards rushing for the entire season (BQ had 3 rushing TDs), compared to 1 fumble (lost) and -2 yards rushing in 8 games the year before; while playing behind a strong O-line.

        Is he poised for a breakout BQ like junior season, methinks not.

  7. bearcatirishfan - Jul 20, 2012 at 11:11 AM

    Wow that number of Rees supports dropped from 9 to 3 in the last couple of hours that’s fast. Just to go on record I’m not a Rees supporter. Sometimes, and I think you could lump christ in here, guys just don’t got IT.

    I know this is counterintuitive to my defendIng his being the first QB in the spring game, but I have talked about that to point of it’s not worth mentioning again.

    • nudeman - Jul 20, 2012 at 12:27 PM

      Agree. But the issue persists as we await the start of practice and 9/1.

      If you polled ND fans nationwide and told them they could get an answer to one question, 99.999% of them would ask “Who’s the QB going to be?”, or some variation of that.

      You’re tired of it. I’m tired of it.
      But until someone not named Rees steps up and grabs hold of the job it isn’t going away.

    • irish4006 - Jul 20, 2012 at 12:41 PM

      Yes, I think your point was very valid and not indicative of the upcoming season. What the real answer is, we will have to wait and find out (EG).

  8. irish4006 - Jul 20, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    Since we talked about BQ and DC a lot above, I just realized something – BQ’s NFL career and DC’s college career are going the same way. They have a lot of potential but yet to get a fair shot. They are both in Kansas now hoping to change things, for maybe the last time. Good luck BQ and good luck DC!

  9. bearcatirishfan - Jul 20, 2012 at 2:31 PM

    I will defend BK on starting tommy that first yer when dc went down there was no one else. You could also make the case for last year there really was nobody ready behind Rees.

    • nudeman - Jul 20, 2012 at 3:11 PM

      Here’s a distinct memory I have, somewhat anecdotal in nature:

      In the 2nd half of the USF game, Rees went down, and for a minute looked like he might have to come out. I DISTINCTLY remember Keith writing that it was EG looking for his helmet, not Dayne.

      How mad must BK have been with DC? Maybe a 9.8 on a scale of 10?

      We’ll never know, but imagine how different everything MIGHT be today had that happened.
      EG comes in, lights it up, and the whole TR debate that has been dominating this board ever since never takes place.

  10. bearcatirishfan - Jul 20, 2012 at 4:48 PM

    I like that dream, let’s hope that happens except it’s EG that starts the season and no one gets hurt.

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