It's difficult to have your college football season thrown into a tailspin in May. However, Notre Dame seemingly has done so.
Word began to spread through social media early Saturday that returning starting quarterback Everett Golson was indeed no longer a student at the university, and this evening, Notre Dame spokesman Dennis Brown confirmed to several media that was the case, but would not expound on the reasons why.
Golson's departure is the second by a Fighting Irish quarterback this spring. Second-year quarterback Gunner Kiel announced in March that he would be transferring and ultimately landed at Cincinnati last month.
The loss of Golson is seismic. As a first-year player last fall, Golson surprised many with his strong play, as he guided the Irish to a 12-0 regular season record and an appearance in the 2013 BCS National Championship Game in January, where the Irish fell to Alabama.
“Everett had a good spring overall,” Irish coach Brian Kelly said following the Blue-Gold game last month. “I really liked his development in the spring. He's still learning and he'll get better because of it.”
Golson completed 187 passes for over 2,400 yards and a dozen touchdowns. He also ran for nearly 300 yards. His departure leaves Notre Dame with three quarterback candidates to start this coming season, but in all likelihood, it will probably be senior Tommy Rees.
Rees will compete with classmate Andrew Hendrix and true freshman Malik Zaire, but his experience (34 games), makes him the most viable candidate.
The switch from Rees to Golson isn't a massive one, due to the fact that Rees has gotten so many repetitions throughout his career. However, it will be challenging due to Kelly will need to alter the offense, which has taken advantage of Golson's mobility, of which Rees does not possess.
In addition to the loss of Golson, the Notre Dame offense will also have to manage to find production with the loss of graduated All-American tight end Tyler Eifert, a pair of veteran offensive linemen (Branxston Cave and Mike Golic Jr.), as well as its two most prolific running backs in Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood.
Kelly said earlier this spring that the summer time is for player development, not vacation, so it will be imperative that the new Notre Dame offensive players use that time to their advantage.
“The middle of June we'll begin sevens on sevens and one on ones,” Kelly explained, “and those guys are going to have to take a jump. That's when you develop your leaders. That's when those guys take over. Last year the guys did a great job over the summer, and they will be challenged to do the same.”
As a sophomore, Rees was the starting quarterback and completed over 65 percent of his passes, 20 of which, were for touchdowns. However, he was turnover-prone and threw 14 interceptions, and ultimately lost the starting position to Golson, in part because of that.
Last fall, he subbed for Golson at times when the young quarterback was inconsistent or injured. Rees completed 34 passes, but again was plagued by turnovers, as he had as many interceptions (two) as he did touchdowns.
Notre Dame was recently ranked eighth by Athlon Sports in its recent pre-season poll. The Irish open the 2013 season against Temple on Aug. 31 in South Bend (NBC).