Redshirt off, Irish staff preparing Wimbush to play

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The mystery surrounding freshman quarterback Brandon Wimbush will be coming to an end. The blue-chip recruit is going to play.

Entering the 2015 season, the intentions of Notre Dame’s coaching staff were to redshirt Wimbush, hoping to get through the season with Malik Zaire and DeShone Kizer. But with Zaire done and Kizer moving into the starting lineup, Kelly is preparing to get Wimbush involved in the game plan, sooner rather than later.

“He’s going to have to play this year. So I haven’t decided yet, but he’s going to play this year,” Kelly said Tuesday. “Let’s try to get him as much experience as possible and we’re going to prepare him this week as if he’s going to play and go from there.”

That playing time could come this Saturday, even against a ranked team like Georgia Tech. And it certainly won’t need to be in mop-up duty, with Kelly understanding that it’s better to get Wimbush acclimated on his terms than on somebody elses.

(This is something Jac Collinsworth and I talked about during our most recent podcast.)

What Kelly and quarterbacks coach/offensive coordinator Mike Sanford can get out of Wimbush remains to be seen. But he’s an elite athlete with a really big arm, a high school sprinter who can do some things to help diversify the offense.

Kelly talked about some of the challenges they face preparing Wimbush for action, especially considering they’ll be working on the field with him for really the first time during today’s practice. Outside of teaching Wimbush to protect himself and how to handle the moment, Kelly actually thought he needed some more time to see what Wimbush can offer before giving an educated opinion on how he can help the team.

“I mean, there are great challenges. Now he’s a very confident young man. We’ll give him enough to handle and run our offense this week and this will be kind of the first opportunity that we get a good look at him a little bit. He’ll be diving a little bit deeper this week,” Kelly said.

But with the offense in desperate need to score points this weekend against a Georgia Tech attack that’s averaged nearly 47 points over their last 10 games (opponents that include Clemson, Georgia and Mississippi State), the redshirt—not to mention the kid gloves—are coming off.

“He’s going to be in there and he’s going to be playing. I think we can add Brandon into the mix, and there are some things that he can do,” Kelly explained. “He’s got very good speed, he’s got a strong arm, he’s tough, and I think there are some things that could enhance our offense with him in the game as well.”