Irish A-to-Z: Everett Golson

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For all the thousands of words dedicated to Everett Golson‘s comeback, few have talked about the fact that he’s still very much a quarterback in progress. Injuries truncated a 2012 season that kept him completely out of one game and stole portions of others. A redshirt and academic impropriety took away two other season.

That’s all the football Golson has played since his record-setting prep career in South Carolina. Portions of 12 games in the last three years. So while the Irish faithful are counting on Golson to play the role of savior for the 2014 Irish, Brian Kelly is depending on another installation of the offense this summer to get the under-utilized senior up to speed.

After doing everything asked of him in his season away from campus and looking the part of a heroic prodigal son returning, now comes the fun part: Seeing if Golson can do it.

Let’s take a closer look at Everett Golson.

 

EVERETT GOLSON
6’0″, 200 lbs.
Senior, No. 5

 

RECRUITING PROFILE

Notre Dame came into the game late with Golson, helping the quarterback walk away from a commitment to North Carolina to pick the Irish over the Tar Heels, Florida, Georgia, Michigan and Ohio State. Those offers are better than the three-star ranking Rivals gave him, and it was clear Kelly and the Irish staff were enthralled with Golson, the first prototype quarterback Kelly had recruited to his staff.

After enrolling early, here’s what Kelly said about landing Golson on Signing Day.

“He was a player that we felt was a great fit for what we want to do offensively. I think you’ll see that,” Kelly said. “Where we tried to distinguish the quarterback position is we didn’t want a guy that at first sight of any problems would drop his eyes and run. Here’s a guy that keeps his eyes up and is always looking downfield to make a play. That’s extending the play. He extends the play and delivers the football as well as anybody that we had watched. And I think you’ll see that in the way he plays the game.”

While Golson saw the field in the Blue-Gold game, he didn’t for any of his freshman season in 2011, with Tommy Rees taking the starting job from Dayne Crist at halftime of the opener.

 

PLAYING CAREER

Freshman Season (2011): Did not play. Saved a year of eligibility.

Sophomore Season (2012): Led Notre Dame to the BCS title game, starting 11 games while appearing in 12 (he missed the BYU game with a head injury). Was the first quarterback in team history to beat two Top 10-ranked foes on the road.

Completely 58.8 percent of his throws for 12 touchdowns and six interceptions, while also adding six rushing touchdowns to lead the Irish. Joined Joe Theismann and Jarious Jackson as the only quarterbacks in Irish history to throw for 2,000 yards and run for 300 yards in the same season.

Junior Season (2013): An academic honor code violation expelled Golson for the fall semester. He lost the year of eligibility.

 

UPSIDE POTENTIAL

There is still plenty of this for Golson, though he’ll need to make up for the missed year of development. That’s the shame of a lost 2013, keeping Golson from taking strides after a successful 2012 season that had him do some athletically gifted things while also successfully managing the football game.

From a pure upside potential point of view, Golson isn’t the biggest quarterback and he’s not the fastest, either. He’s not going to light up a stopwatch and run a 4.5, and at six-foot in two-inch cleats (at best) he’s not going to turn NFL scouts’ heads as a physical specimen.

But saying all that, he’s still the most intriguing offensive weapon on the Irish roster. At his best (where we briefly saw him in 2012), he’s the perfect trigger man for Kelly’s offense. He’s got an arm that can challenge any defense vertically, while also showing the mobility and nimbleness that can pick up a first down with his feet.

In many ways, Golson is the perfect quarterback at Notre Dame from an earlier era. Athleticism and competitiveness aren’t a question, even if they play better on Saturdays than Sunday.

 

CRYSTAL BALL

If Golson can get through Michigan without losing a game, it’s going to be interesting to see just how good the Irish offense gets. Because the supporting cast is the best of the Kelly era, and gives Golson gifted running backs and receivers, even if the pass-catchers are still a bit raw.

Golson will still be susceptible to scheme — with defensive coordinators likely game-planning for him now in a way they didn’t as a redshirt freshman. But armed with a bigger playbook and the ability to share the load with a competent running game and receiver depth, Golson should be able to take advantage of his point guard roots, serving as a true facilitator in the Irish offense.

How good can his stats be? After watching Kelly’s quarterbacks underwhelm these past four seasons, a big statistical year could be just what the Irish offense ordered, especially when it comes to equalizing a youthful defense. Whether it’s playing at pace or just fundamentally sound football, Golson’s now the face of the Irish football program.

And now he’s got to prove he can live up to the reputation.

 

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The Irish A-to-Z
Josh Atkinson
Nicky Baratti
Alex Bars
Hunter Bivin
Grant Blankenship
Jonathan Bonner
Justin Brent
Kyle Brindza
Chris Brown
Jalen Brown
Greg Bryant
Devin Butler
Jimmy Byrne
Daniel Cage
Amir Carlisle
Austin Collinsworth
Ben Councell
Scott Daly
Sheldon Day
Michael Deeb
Steve Elmer
Matthias Farley
Tarean Folston

Rochell drafted in 7th round; three other former Notre Dame players sign

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All the unnecessary draft conversation may have centered on DeShone Kizer, but the quarterback was not the only former Notre Dame player watching this weekend’s NFL Draft with rapt attention. Aside from Kizer, only Isaac Rochell heard his name called. The San Diego Chargers picked the defensive lineman in the seventh round Saturday with the 225th overall pick.

Rochell finished his Irish career with appearance in 49 of 51 possible games and 167 tackles, including 22 for loss and 4.5 sacks. In 2016, he recorded 55 tackles, good for sixth on the team, with seven for loss.

By the end of the evening, three more former Notre Dame starters had signed on with NFL teams as undrafted free agents. It should be noted, many argue the route available for undrafted free agents is preferable to that of late-round picks. An undrafted free agent can choose which of a handful of situations is preferable to him for whatever reason. A late-round pick does not have that luxury, but still makes a comparable salary.

Linebacker James Onwualu opted to join Rochell with the Chargers. Defensive lineman Jarron Jones signed with the New York Giants. Cornerback Cole Luke latched on with the Carolina Panthers.

Onwualu began his Irish career as a receiver before moving to linebacker before his sophomore season. He finished his career with 143 tackles, including 75 in 2016 with 11.5 for loss and three sacks. His 75 tackles finished behind only now-rising senior linebackers Nyles Morgan’s 94 and Drue Tranquill’s 79.

Battling injuries throughout his Notre Dame career, Jones made 105 tackles with 45 in 2016. His 11 tackles for loss were outdone only by the aforementioned Onwualu total.

Luke made 152 tackles in his Irish career, including 48 last season, and eight interceptions.

Three more players from past years’ Irish rosters could yet find an NFL home—long snapper Scott Daly, defensive lineman-turned-tight end Chase Hounshell and running back Tarean Folston. If any or all do not sign, they can still join teams for rookie mini-camps in hopes of making a positive impression.

RELATED READING: Browns pick former Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer 20th in second round

Browns pick former Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer 20th in second round

Associated Press
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After months of pointless chatter and a night spent waiting, DeShone Kizer’s NFL Draft experience ended Friday night when the Cleveland Browns drafted the former Notre Dame quarterback with the 20th pick in the second round, the No. 52 overall selection.

Originally from Toledo, Ohio, Kizer will have the opportunity to earn the starting job for the franchise less than two hours from his hometown. The Browns trotted out five different quarterbacks in 2016, only two of which remain with the team. Rookie Cody Kessler played in nine games, throwing for 1,380 yards and six touchdowns with only one interception while fellow rookie Kevin Hogan threw for 104 yards and two interceptions in four games.

The Browns have since added Brock Osweiler in a trade with the Houston Texans, though that trade was largely-viewed as a cash-for-picks swap, with the Browns “paying” for picks by taking on Osweiler’s contract in which he is owed $47 million over the next three seasons, including $16 million this season.

A year ago, the No. 52 pick (linebacker Deion Jones to the Atlanta Falcons) received a four-year, $4.546 million contract with a $1.506 million signing bonus.

Hall of fame running back and Browns legend Jim Brown announced the selection of Kizer at the draft festivities.

Speculation a year ago pegged Kizer as an early first-round pick. As the draft approached, projections of his slot varied widely, many including a second-round status. Despite first-round theatrics leading to three quarterbacks going in the first 12 picks Thursday night, Kizer had to wait another day before learning where he will start his NFL career. (more…)

Friday at 4: ‘Attention to detail’ includes Notre Dame Stadium

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Brian Kelly proselytized multiple abstract concepts this spring. By the end of the 15 practices and subsequent media sessions, even the Irish coach knew some of his references to “grit” would be met by muted eye rolls from the press. If a questioner included the word in their query, Kelly reacted with tongue-in-cheek approval, “You’ve been listening.”

In his press conference the day before spring practices commenced, Kelly used the phrase “attention to detail” six separate times. While he was referring to his players on the football field, Kelly could have also been discussing the ongoing—but supposedly close to finished—construction at Notre Dame Stadium known as Campus Crossroads.

The three buildings around the exterior of the Stadium, the added suites and the video board above the south end zone have garnered the headlines. On a macro level, those are the changes of note. On a micro level, however, other details have trickled into the public stream of knowledge as the work nears its conclusion.

Over the weekend—and now reignited by a column from the South Bend Tribune’s Mike Vorel—the image of the newly-added visitors’ tunnel delighted Irish fans. Vorel likens the narrow entry to “the spot they’d stash the gladiators before feeding them to starving tigers in The Coliseum.” Assuredly, Vorel is going for dramatic effect, and it must work considering its citation here, but even a realistic view of the tunnel’s effects bodes well.

If nothing else, Notre Dame players should enjoy something of a psychological boost when racing out of their adult-sized tunnel and seeing their opponent trickle out of a tunnel seemingly-sized for ants. (Yes, the north end zone tunnel is at least three times bigger than the visitors’ tunnel.)

That pale, slanted staircase holds none of the luxuries of the home team’s entrance, something Kelly went out of his way to praise after using it in Saturday’s Blue-Gold Game. (more…)

Where Notre Dame was & is: Linebackers

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You want complete honesty? The linebacker version of this series includes no revelations, no unexpected developments, no surprising spring performances. There is an allusion to a position switch, sure, but this piece became much simpler with the rover being discussed separately Thursday.

The idea was to capitalize on the NFL Draft for the morning and let the linebackers slip by in the afternoon, noticed only by those twiddling their thumbs through the last hours of the work week. Alas, former Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer was not drafted in the first round and a brief recap of his draft destination will need to await at least another day. Programming note: The NFL Draft reconvenes tonight (Friday) at 7 p.m. ET. The Green Bay Packers are on the clock. They will not draft a quarterback.

But back to the linebackers. This piece may have been intended to slip by with little fanfare, but that is not indicative of the Irish linebackers. Where Notre Dame was is so similar to where Notre Dame is simply because two experienced senior captains lead the way at linebacker.

WHERE NOTRE DAME WAS:
Aside from questions about defensive coordinator Mike Elko’s rover position, only one question stood out about this linebacker group: Who would start alongside senior Nyles Morgan: senior Greer Martini or junior Te’von Coney?

A year ago Coney recorded the fourth-most tackles on the team with 62. Martini finished fifth with 55, and his seven tackles for loss, including three sacks, dwarfed Coney’s 1.5. Yet Coney technically started nine games compared to Martini’s four.

RELATED READING: Two days until spring practice: A look at the linebackers

With the rover often lining up essentially as a linebacker, there would only be space for one of Martini or Coney in most formations.

WHERE NOTRE DAME IS:
In his first season with the Irish, Elko will have quite a luxury in referring to Coney as a backup linebacker. In some respects, that designation was inevitable as soon as Martini was named a captain. Nonetheless, Coney will see plenty of playing time.

The two captains—along with fellow captain, senior Drue Tranquill at rover—will be counted on throughout the summer and fall camp to continue the defense’s growth in Elko’s system. Elko said he installed “close to 50 percent” of his entire defense throughout spring practice. The linebackers must deal with the most difficult aspects of that learning.

“There’s been a noticeable improvement in terms of this starting to look like the defense we want this to look like as spring has gone on,” Elko said a week ago. “… Linebacker probably more than any other position, linebacker and safety, where the scheme takes some time to get used to, how you see it, how you fit it, how you feel it. Those guys have gotten better with that which has then allowed them to play faster as the spring has moved on.”

Sophomore Jonathan Jones will likely provide any further depth that may be needed in 2017, unless either of the incoming freshmen, David Adams and Drew White, excel from the outset. Irish coach Brian Kelly indicated sophomore Jamir Jones (no relation to Jonathan, but is former Notre Dame defensive lineman Jarron Jones’ brother) may be destined for time on the defensive line, in large part to Jones’s continued growth. Junior Josh Barajas let the spring come and go without mandating he be involved in these conversations, which may as well count as removing himself from the conversation in most regards.

Where Notre Dame Was & Is: Defensive Line
Where Notre Dame Was, Is & Could Be: Rover