Well, this was predictable. Former Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer agrees with Irish coach Brian Kelly that Kizer has more growing to do on the football field. Kizer appeared on ESPN Chicago 1000 FM’s “Kap and Co,” hosted by David Kaplan and Jordan Cornette on Tuesday morning.
Cornette, a former Notre Dame basketball player and current basketball announcer, has publicly criticized Kelly, including during the recent hubbub after Kelly said Kizer “needs more football.” Naturally, Cornette asked Kizer how he felt about his former coach’s opinion.
“It’s honestly the truth,” Kizer said. “I have two more years available [of college eligibility]. I’m only 21 years of age. There is a lot of growth for me. There’s a lot of growth for everyone in this draft. There’s a lot of guys out there who had to make big adjustments as they move into the NFL, and I know it. That’s why I’m not the No. 1 quarterback guaranteed walking into this draft as we speak.”
Kizer nearly came across as appreciative of Kelly’s comments, viewing them as a chance akin to those granted by many NFL teams when they ask about Notre Dame’s disappointing 2016 season.
“For me, that’s just another opportunity for me to acknowledge that yes I do need to grow,” Kizer said. “Yes, when I am meeting with these coaches on the potential teams that I play n, I need to understand that I need to buy into their coaching to become successful, to fill in those gaps, to truly become a pro that I need to become.”
As of Tuesday morning, Kizer had not spoken with Kelly regarding the unnecessarily-controversial comments. That is in part due to Kizer’s busy pre-draft schedule, most recently reportedly meeting with the Arizona Cardinals. That is also, at least in part, because Kizer does not see it as needed. Neither does Kelly, surmises Kizer.
“If it is something that he truly believes or something that could be taken down the wrong path, he would address it with me in the first place,” Kizer said. “As soon as all this chaos created around the couple comments and he didn’t come reach out to me, I quickly understood that it really wasn’t as big of a deal as it could be pushed out to be.
“If it was something which he felt strongly about or something that he was going to address the media and make a big deal, he would’ve warned me before. That’s how our relationship has always been. There would be dialogue before that.”
Such a straightforward approach fits in line with the player-coach relationship and track record Kizer described. Kizer said he went to Notre Dame expecting to be coached a certain way, and that is exactly what happened.
“Off the field with coach Kelly, our relationship was just as it is expected to be,” Kizer said. “That was one where [if] we saw each other, we’d have a couple conversations here and there, but for the most part we were all about business.
“We were just both so competitive that at times you see on the sidelines and you see from an outsider’s perspective at times, we’re going to clash heads. That just comes with the competitive nature of both of us.
“He expects a lot out of me and I expect him to hold me to those same standards. It is what it is. Coach Kelly and I have created a great relationship and it’ll be a lifelong relationship. He was my college coach. He taught me what I know with football right now, and it’ll forever by me platform for whatever success I have moving forward into the NFL.”
The NFL Draft begins April 27. The aforementioned Cardinals have the No. 13 pick. Being a Chicago-based radio show, Kaplan and Cornette repeatedly praised the Bears, stating hopes Kizer may land there. Chicago has the No. 3 pick.
HOW KIZER RESPONDS TO NFL TEAMS’ QUESTIONS
As the media asked Kizer at the NFL Combine, teams have continued to ask him: How did Notre Dame go 4-8 last season? It seems the more he is asked, the more he has realized exactly why these particular teams are so concerned. It is, in fact, the very nature of the draft.
“If you’re going to be a No. 1 quarterback in the draft, you have to be a winner,” Kizer said. “These teams are going to be selecting a guy to turn around their programs right away. The way the draft is set up, obviously the top teams are going to be teams that haven’t experienced success in the last couple seasons, most likely.
“They’re definitely asking questions about how do you go 4-8 with the talent that you have, they’re asking questions about a little bit of accuracy and consistency. My response to them has been, ‘Hey, when it comes to 4-8, the ball is in my hands. I need to become more consistent and more accurate.’ Kind of connect the two dots there, to have a little bit more success at Notre Dame.”
KIZER ON CHOICE TO PLAY AT NOTRE DAME
Kizer’s lifelong goal has been to be a professional athlete. He made his college choice with that dream in mind.
“In my opinion, there’s no other stage in college football that’s as big as Notre Dame’s is,” he said. “You’re not playing for the 100,000 in the Horseshoe. You’re not playing for a statewide following down in Florida for Florida State. You’re playing for an international fan base that’s bigger than anything anyone else could ever play in front of …
“In order to be a franchise quarterback, it’s going to be very similar to that. As far as my decision for playing there, I have no regrets and I think it’s going to be the best thing for me.”
KIZER ON BRANDON WIMBUSH
For two years, Kizer spent untold time with current Irish rising junior quarterback Brandon Wimbush. The two shared meeting rooms, practices, travel schedules, etc. By no means would anyone ever expect Kizer to speak poorly of Wimbush, but his praises still stand out for their amplitude.
“I knew I was going to be leaving [Notre Dame] in good hands at the quarterback position,” Kizer said. “He’s just as athletic. He has as big of an arm as I believe I had—he has a bigger arm than I have. The guy can throw the ball 80 yards in the air like it’s no big deal. Intellect, his ability to learn, his ability to take things in and spit them right back at you with recall that’s right on point, it’s exactly the way that brought me some success at the college level.”
Kizer also espoused the benefits of Wimbush’s unique timeline: playing his freshman year, preserving a year of eligibility in his second.
“He’s going to look like a three- or four-year starter in his first game,” Kizer said. “I am very confident in the fact that Brandon is going to go out and do very well, and we won’t skip a beat as the Irish, get right back to winning in the way that everyone knows we should be.”