Jan 3, 2014, 5:56 PM EDT
Brian Kelly has made a point of signing a quarterback in every class. After inheriting Andrew Hendrix and Tommy Rees, Kelly added Luke Massa to his debut class in South Bend. He signed Everett Golson the next year, a two-sport athlete that was set to play basketball and football at North Carolina. He snagged five-star LSU-bound QB Gunner Kiel at the eleventh hour before bringing in Malik Zaire last season.
Only Golson and Zaire remain, with Golson’s well-discussed sabbatical only now bringing him back to campus. While many wondered if a potentially crowded depth chart was going to leave the quarterback position unfilled in this recruiting class, Notre Dame is set to welcome Toledo’s Deshone Kizer as a critical piece of the 2014 recruiting class… not to mention a depth chart that sorely needs a third scholarship quarterback.
Kizer is an intriguing prospect. Offers from Alabama, Louisville, LSU, Northwestern and Wisconsin give you an idea about his ranging skill-set. At 6-foot-5, he’s the tallest quarterback Kelly has recruited to South Bend. But he’s also mobile enough to be thought of as a dual-threat quarterback by just about every recruiting service, a consensus 4-star prospect.
Yet Kizer seems to be flying a bit under the radar as we approach Signing Day. He wasn’t on either the Under Armor or US Army All-American rosters. But one look at his senior tape gives you an idea of the type of player the Irish are getting. A tall, smooth athlete, the ball comes out of Kizer’s hand with ease, the type of arm strength that you can only see getting bigger as he hits a college weight room. His on-field IQ also seems to be a strong suit, with Kizer’s highlight reel showing a quarterback that’s made a habit of making throws on time and precisely, with accuracy both vertical down the field and fitting balls in tight spaces. And even at 6-5, he’s comfortable keeping the ball on the zone read, running for 530 yards on 8.5 yards per carry this season.
The Toledo Free Press profiled Kizer today, with the Central Catholic star almost fulfilling his destiny by going from one Fighting Irish program to another. The first-team D-III All-Ohio quarterback also seems to have his head on his shoulders, understanding the challenge that awaits him in South Bend.
After watching Gunner Kiel pick up and leave rather than compete with Everett Golson, Kizer’s attitude must be music to Irish fans ears:
“I just want to make sure I come in and learn from a guy who has been in a national championship game and has had success on the national stage,” Kizer told the Free Press. “Would I like to play? Of course. I’m not the type of guy who is just going to walk in and want to sit the bench for my first year there. I want to get in and compete and play. I know it will take a lot of work and take a lot of time here at Central for the next five months to prepare myself before I get there. If I walk into a place and think that I am just going to take the job of a quarterback who has been in a national championship without working hard for it, then I am clueless. That’s exactly what’s not going to happen.”
As we get closer to Signing Day, we’ll take a closer look at Notre Dame’s incoming prospects. But it looks as though Brian Kelly has a good quarterback coming in to anchor his offensive recruiting class.