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Irish A-to-Z: Malik Zaire

Aug 29, 2014, 5:46 PM EDT

Malik Zaire

Putting up a better fight for the starting quarterback job than anyone expected, sophomore Malik Zaire reminded many Irish fans that he’s more than just an afterthought in the program. With five-star prospect Blake Barnett dropping the Irish earlier this summer and Notre Dame looking like they’ll skip quarterback in this recruiting cycle, Zaire becomes even more important in the team’s future plans.

After impressing in the past two Blue-Gold games, Zaire moves into the primary backup position, one hit away from running the Irish offense and getting real game action. With Brian Kelly likely hoping to dictate the terms of Zaire’s debut instead of an opposing defense, expect to see cameos from the young quarterback sooner than later.

Let’s take a closer look at the Ohio native.


6’0, 210 lbs.
Sophomore, No. 8



Zaire made his move in the recruiting world the summer before his senior season, making noise at the Elite 11 camp and impressing the staff there with his smooth throwing stroke, willingness to learn and impressive athleticism.

After running for over 1,000 yards and nearly passing for 2,000 in his senior season, Notre Dame outdueled some impressive programs for Zaire’s signature, beating offers from Alabama, Rich Rodriguez at Arizona, and a late offer from Urban Meyer at Ohio State.

Zaire early enrolled in South Bend for the spring semester and after getting an early look at the young quarterback, here’s what Kelly had to say.

“I think what I loved about Malik is when he came up here last spring, he sat in our quarterback meeting room,” Kelly recalled. “When he left that meeting, he made it clear to me that this was the place he wanted to be.  He loved the environment, he loved the coaching, he loved the opportunity to come in and run the offense, and that’s looking at great competition and saying, I don’t care about that, I’m going to come to Notre Dame because it’s the right place for me academically, and it’s the right place for me because I’m going to be the starter here at Notre Dame.”



Freshman Season (2013): Did not see action.



Perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised by Zaire making noise and saying he expected to be the starting quarterback this fall. After all, he looked at Notre Dame’s five-deep meeting room and saw opportunity, and that was before Gunner Kiel, Everett Golson and Andrew Hendrix all departed the program.

We’ve seen snippets of Zaire looking really good in scrimmages and practice footage, but that’s hardly the same thing as a game. But Kelly continues to praise Zaire for being better when the lights shine brightest, and there’s something to be said for a guy that gets that type of compliment.

One place where Zaire can be a weapon is in the open field. He’s a better runner than Golson and while he may not have the same arm strength, he’s deadly in the option game and has enough heat on the ball that he can make just about all the throws.

As a redshirt freshman, Zaire’s clock begins now. And without Barnett entering this recruiting cycle, things look good for Zaire… even if he needs to wait for Golson to move on.



The odds are in favor of Zaire having to win at least one game this season. Golson spent much of 2012 dinged up, forced to sit out the BYU game after a nasty concussion. He also missed chunks of other games as well, meaning that Zaire better have his chin strap up and a complete command of the game plan.

Still, it’s hard to see a situation outside of injury that gets Zaire a true opportunity to make noise on the field. Outside of mop-up time or Golson playing abnormally awful (or playing so well that he heads to the NFL after this season), Malik’s going to have to wait his turn until the 2016 season.



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
Will Fuller
Everett Golson
Jarrett Grace
Conor Hanratty
Eilar Hardy
Mark Harrell
Jay Hayes
Matt Hegarty
Mike Heuerman
Kolin Hill
Corey Holmes
Chase Hounshell
Torii Hunter Jr.
Jarron Jones
DeShone Kizer
Ben Koyack
Christian Lombard
Tyler Luatua
Cole Luke
Nick Martin
Greer Martini
Jacob Matuska
Cam McDaniel
Mike McGlinchey
Colin McGovern
Pete Mokwuah
John Montelus
Kendall Moore
Nyles Morgan
Sam Mustipher
Quenton Nelson
Tyler Newsome
Romeo Okwara
James Onwualu
C.J. Prosise
Anthony Rabasa
Doug Randolph
Max Redfield
Cody Riggs
Corey Robinson
Isaac Rochell
KeiVarae Russell
Joe Schmidt
Elijah Shumate
Jaylon Smith
Durham Smythe
Ronnie Stanley
Drue Tranquill
Andrew Trumbetti
John Turner
Justin Utupo
Nick Watkins
Nic Weishar
Ishaq Williams
Jhonny Williams

  1. irishinmich - Aug 29, 2014 at 6:01 PM

    Keith, you did it!!! You’re done! Wait…….Zbikowski graduated, right? At the risk of sounding like I am blowing sunshine up your channel……
    Great job on the A-Z feature. It helped ease the monotony of a long off season. I don’t think I will believe the season is actually starting until kickoff tomorrow.
    Go Irish!!!

    • dickasman - Aug 29, 2014 at 6:03 PM

      I dunno. I didn’t not like it but it was bit much to be honest

    • liv4nd - Aug 30, 2014 at 12:40 AM

      I agree. Enjoyed it very much. Great way for us to be more educated fans and keep is interested in the LONG off season.

  2. cbusdomer - Aug 29, 2014 at 6:30 PM

    Keith, thanks for the hard work. It was nice to get to know all the players. Now let the games begin so these trolls go back under the bridge. Go Irish!!!

  3. jerseyirish10 - Aug 29, 2014 at 7:26 PM

    Thanks Keith. This series helped get us through that long off season.
    Go IRISH….Beat Rice!

  4. johngaltisspeaking - Aug 29, 2014 at 7:31 PM

    Bob Diaco looks as lost as Brian K as a head coach. I think Good ole Bob is having remembrances of the Notre Dame Alabama Game. He keeps chanting to himself SEC SEC SEC..

    • papadec - Aug 29, 2014 at 7:57 PM

      Hey johnnie – vandy – vandy – vandy. gamecocks – gamecocks – gamecocks. What conference are they in?

      • johngaltisspeaking - Aug 29, 2014 at 7:59 PM

        Vandy is the Notre Dame of the SEC and Gamecocks got beat by SEC… SEC SEC SEC

    • jvsirish - Aug 29, 2014 at 8:58 PM

      You’re a funny little dwarf!

      • papadec - Aug 29, 2014 at 9:38 PM

        jvs – This jg troll is more fun to poke with a stick than any we’ve had in the past. As good a way, as any, to pass time until the season starts – under 18 hours now. I’m actually starting to believe that he has convinced himself that Bama’s success under Saban is really indicative of the history of the conference. Poor lad, delusional.

  5. johngaltisspeaking - Aug 29, 2014 at 9:08 PM

    Zaire should play for the aggies. Sec sec sec

    • danirish - Aug 30, 2014 at 8:26 AM

      Aggies? You mean the team that wasn’t in the SEC a few years ago, couldn’t win a conference title but then joins the SEC and whips butt? You mean the Aggies along with Mizzou who came into the most powerful conference in the universe and beat up on some of the most powerful teams of the universe? Maybe ND should join the SEC – sounds like you can waltz in and do very well.

  6. kansasirish - Aug 29, 2014 at 9:34 PM

    Those U Conn helmets are brutal! Bobby D looks the part though.

  7. succulentnipples - Aug 29, 2014 at 9:54 PM

    Big Johnathon Football thinks the Inside the Irish name is perverted.

  8. 25kgold - Aug 29, 2014 at 10:28 PM

    South Bend Don’t Break!

  9. onward2victory - Aug 30, 2014 at 1:33 AM

    Well done Keith, I also really enjoyed this series.

  10. yaketyyacc - Aug 30, 2014 at 6:24 AM

    Notre Dame, the only football team to start its back up quarterback.

  11. dudeacow - Aug 30, 2014 at 8:27 AM

    And thus completes possibly the most ambitious project ever by a single writer. April 29–August 29. This is why you’re the best, Keith.

  12. goirishgo - Aug 30, 2014 at 9:51 AM

    Great offseason Keith. Thank you!

    GO IRISH!!!

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