Feb 5, 2013, 8:58 PM EDT
With a back-log of talent at quarterback, it was almost expected that Notre Dame would skip this recruiting cycle at the position if it didn’t land one of its earliest targets. But in signing Malik Zaire, the Irish found themselves another quarterback that’s tailor-made for what Brian Kelly wants to do with his offense. Zaire, who burst onto the scene with his impressive performance at the Elite 11 camp, looks like a left-handed Everett Golson, a silky smooth athlete with a great throwing stroke and nimble feet. After playing in a Wing-T system in high school, the transition to college football might be steep. But there’s no rush for this early enrollee.
Measureables: 6-foot-1, 196-pounds
Accolades: Four-star ranking, Rivals, ESPN, Scout, 247Sports. No. 3 Dual-threat QB in country, per Rivals. AP All Ohio Division-III Southwest District Offensive Player of the Year. First-team QB All-Region. Finalist, Mr. Football Ohio.
Impressive offers: Alabama, Arizona, Nebraska, Ohio State, Wisconsin
Projected position: Quarterback
Quick Take: There’s a ton to like about Zaire, another undersized athlete-first quarterback. A left-handed thrower, Zaire looks smooth in the pass game, the product of a silky delivery and natural ability. He’s also proficient running the ball, racking up over 1,100 yards on the ground last year.
With a depth chart stacked with blue-chip talent, there’s no reason to think that Zaire won’t work his way to the top of it. At the Elite 11 camp, Zaire wowed coaches with his savvy and ability, thriving in an offensive system light years different than his high school’s. Yogi Roth, an Elite 11 coach, was higher on Zaire than Notre Dame’s last two QB signees, Gunner Kiel and Everett Golson.
What it means for the Irish roster: Stability at a position that might not stay that way. With a log-jam behind Golson entering spring ball, it wouldn’t be surprising if someone transfers out of South Bend for the opportunity to play. If that’s Andrew Hendrix, it doesn’t likely factor into Zaire’s trajectory. But if it’s Kiel, Zaire could be thrust into action sooner than later.
Obligatory YouTube highlight tape: Not much on the net by way of Zaire’s senior season, but here’s a link to Zaire’s junior reel, and a quick video of the QB in shorts at the Elite 11 prelim camp.