SOUTH BEND – Standing in front of dozens of media members Monday in the Loftus Sports Center on the Notre Dame campus, Everett Golson looked at peace.
Some of that may have come from teammate Sheldon Day loosening him up as he approached the microphones by joining him in front of the crowd.
Golson showcased a genuine smile, giving the indication that he has turned the page on history.
This is not a guy who is haunted by his past, of which so much has been documented.
Instead, Golson showed on Monday morning that he has turned the corner in the year since his “academic transgression” saw him booted from the University of Notre Dame. He could have transferred elsewhere or played in the junior college ranks, but instead he kept his eye on a return to South Bend.
Monday showed that he is not only back physically, but also rejuvenated and refocused mentally as both a football player and a college student.
“I'm an older guy now,” said Golson, a senior-to-be who has two years of eligibility remaining. “Like I said, where I am now (regarding maturity), I wasn't there when I first came in. I'll admit to that. But it's part of the process, it's part of me growing.”
Golson had plenty of time to grow away from South Bend. He worked out for two months in California with private quarterback coach George Whitfield, improving everything from his mechanics to mindset to his physical frame.
He also worked hard to learn from his mistakes in the classroom and not only make sure they do not happen again but also take ownership of them.
When asked Monday whether he regretted what he did, he spoke off the cuff.
“I regret it in a sense, but I think it allowed me to grow so much,” Golson said. “I had some tough times to really sit back and think about what I did and how I could move forward from that. So I think I'm a different person because of it.”
He admitted to missing the rigors of what it takes to succeed both on the field and in the classroom at Notre Dame. For him, the realization that he was not a member of the team in 2013 took time to really register.
“It really hit me the first game (of the season), the Temple game,” Golson said. “I was actually in Chicago and I saw them getting ready, gearing up for the game. I was watching the game on TV.
“That's when it really hit me that you're not there anymore. I went through the whole process of first feeling humiliated for it and then coming back around to where I am now of me being back here ready to go.”
Golson is indeed back, as both a scholarship football player and a member of the student body.
By all indications Monday, he is ready to succeed at both this time around.