Throughout the spring all four Notre Dame quarterbacks vying for the starting role in 2012 fielded questions about what the position requires physically and mentally. One of sophomore Everett Golson’s responses didn’t stand out much at the time. That was before teammate Tommy Rees was busted early Thursday morning and eventually charged with four misdemeanors.
“Everybody expects a leader to be that decisive guy,” Golson said in the days prior to the Blue-Gold Game.
That’s true, but it means nothing if the decisions are of the bonehead variety.
Until Rees’ May 17 hearing, when he’ll face charges of public intoxication, illegal consumption of alcohol by a minor and two counts of resisting law enforcement after police were called to an off-campus party, it is unknown how the returning starter’s decisiveness will affect his status as a Notre Dame student and football player.
After Rees threw 14 interceptions last season in 13 games (12 starts), many Fighting Irish fans were already eager for change. Rees’ incredibly poor judgment may have expedited an alteration.
In March and April Golson and junior-to-be Andrew Hendrix said they’re ready to take on the challenge. Depending on how the legal process plays out and the judgments handed down by Notre Dame’s Office of Residence Life and Irish head coach Brian Kelly, they may not have a choice.
“I think I’ve grown a lot — tremendously,” Golson said on April 14. “From last spring until now, I’d say I’ve almost doubled my [football] I.Q. level. That’s just with help from great coaches like Coach Kelly and Coach [Chuck] Martin. They really break everything down to make sure you understand it.”
The problem is, so does Rees, who by far has the most experience of the quartet, which includes early enrollee Gunner Kiel. With the possibility that Rees will miss all of the voluntary summer workouts and perhaps more, the absence of a veteran voice is a considerable blow for a program in desperate need to sort out the most key position.
“I still have a long, long way to go,” said Golson, who rushed for 25 yards on six carries and went 11-for-15 passing for 120 yards and two touchdowns — by far the most exciting performance by a QB in the spring game. “One of the biggest things for me is just to be more consistent. I kind of know what I want to do; it’s just a fact of being consistent.”
Golson said he’d be ready by August to lead the Irish if that’s what Kelly decides.
“I definitely do, just because I have that confidence in my ability,” he said. “With great coaches like Coach Martin and Coach Kelly I think I can get there, definitely.
“We understand it’s a competition, but at the same time we’re not violent towards each other. We’re always there to help each other out. There are many times when I’m coming off the field and I’ll ask Tommy a question.”
That may or may not be an option moving forward.