Zaire has ankle surgery, targets spring return

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Malik Zaire had surgery Sunday morning to cast and repair his fractured ankle, Brian Kelly said during his weekend teleconference. The Irish quarterback is resting and under observation on campus, after team doctor Brian Ratigan performed the operation.

Zaire was injured late in the game against Virginia, his season ended on his tenth carry of the afternoon, with DeShone Kizer replacing Zaire and leading the Irish to a victory in the final seconds. Kelly hopes Zaire will begin the rehab process soon, with a targeted return for spring practice.

“Surgery went well. He’ll begin the process of rehab once he’s able to get the swelling down,” Kelly said. “I think it’s a couple weeks before we start to begin some movement. It’s non-weight bearing for about six weeks, and then Rob Hunt, our football athletic trainer, will begin some movement. We are hoping to have him back full go for spring ball.”

Just because Zaire’s season is finished doesn’t mean he’ll be away from the team. Kelly hopes to have Zaire traveling with the team as early as the Clemson game, likely there to support Kizer, and likely a good way to keep the spirits of the injured quarterback high.

Kelly compared the injury to the one Joe Schmidt suffered last season. Schmidt, who broke his ankle on the first day of November against Navy was back working out with the Irish during spring ball, though he was kept out of contact drills.

Notre Dame’s quarterback depth chart is now led by Kizer, with true freshman Brandon Wimbush backing him up. Montgomery VanGorder is now the third stringer.