Mar 3, 2014, 4:29 PM EDT
Everett Golson is finally back where he belongs. After a season away from the Irish, Golson took his first snaps with the football program Monday morning and addressed the media after the team’s first spring practice.
While he didn’t want to rehash the situation that forced him away from the program for a season, Golson reflected on the experience and how it will help him moving forward.
“I knew I messed up,” Golson said Monday. “For me, I had to come back and complete what I started.”
After a long season away, Golson is back where he started, with expectations still as lofty as ever. Entering his senior year at Notre Dame (Golson has two seasons of eligibility remaining), he’s able to look back and see some silver lining in a situation that once seemed very dire.
“I regret it in a sense, but I think it allowed me to grow so much,” Golson said. “My maturity level is completely different now. I had some time to sit back and really think on what I did and how I can move forward from that. I think I’m a different person because of it.”
Golson looks like a different person. He’s carrying 15 additional pounds on his frame, looking more like an upperclassman than a high school point guard. He’ll also be working with a much different team than the one he left.
Missing are nine of the 10 leading receivers from the 2012 team. Only Christian Lombard returns to his offensive line. His offensive coordinator is gone, with Chuck Martin coaching at Miami (Ohio). And new quarterback coach Matt LaFleur is working with Golson for the first time.
Golson acknowledged those changes, but sounded upbeat about the players that surround him.
“I like the team,” Golson said. “I like our wide receivers and our O-linemen as well. Yes, I’m throwing to a lot of new guys… I really like the skill group that we have here.”
For the offense, Golson’s chemistry with his teammates is the main objective during these 15 practices. With talented yet unproven receivers, a running back depth chart that features two young backs and a mostly anonymous tight end position, this spring will be about building trust between the leader of the offense and his troops.
Off the field, Golson also needs to continue to work in the classroom, an adjustment that’s gone well so far this semester. The quarterback talked about returning to school, having nothing but praise for the open arms that welcomed him back on campus.
“I feel a little rejuvenated,” Golson said of his studies. “It’s been good. The teachers and professors are really receptive of me. Everything is going swell in there.”
At this point in his career, Golson is no longer a young player bursting with potential. He’s a building block needed for success. With six long months until the 2014 season arrives, he’s taking things day by day, an approach that meshes with Brian Kelly’s as well.
“As it’s always been, it’s me bettering myself in order to better this team,” Golson said. “That’s what I try to strive for, even when I first got here.”