SOUTH BEND – Nearly 15 months after being suspended from Notre Dame due to an academic snafu, Everett Golson has come full circle.
The junior was named the starting quarterback for the season opener against Rice by Brian Kelly at a press conference on Wednesday.
The game on August 30 against the Owls will constitute 600 days between starts for Golson, who last started in the BCS Championship Game against Alabama on Jan. 7, 2013.
“Everett is the starter for Rice and we hope he is the starter for the entire year,” Kelly said. “But we have to win and Everett knows that.”
Golson battled with sophomore Malik Zaire throughout the spring and into fall practice for the starting position, with Zaire clouding the spot after a standout performance in the Blue-Gold Game in April.
Kelly said he made the decision not just on the last few weeks of camp, but dating all the way back to when he was reinstated to the University in December.
“Everything from winter workouts to how he handled himself with the team through the spring, summer and fall, that all went into the decision,” said Kelly about Golson.
Kelly spoke with Zaire first about the decision on Wednesday morning.
“I told Malik first to let him know what his situation was and I got the right answer from Malik, he wasn't happy,” Kelly said. “If he had given me a hug, I would have been very disappointed.”
Two primary factors went in to the final decision.
“Everett's understanding of the entire offense, not singular plays but the entire offense,” said Kelly when asked why he chose Golson. “I think it was more understanding of the bigger picture and his leadership.”
Golson threw for 2,405 yards and 12 touchdowns against six interceptions in the 2012 season and added 298 yards and six scores rushing.