This article is a part of our 2012 Player Projections series. During the summer months Blue & Gold Illustrated will be evaluating each player on Notre Dame’s projected two-deep depth chart — reviewing their careers to this point and discussing expectations for the year to come.
Sophomore Everett Golson is looking for his first college snaps this fall.
Everett Golson — QB
Height: 6-foot Weight: 185
Stats: 120 yards passing, 2 TDs (2012 Blue-Gold Scrimmage)
For better and worse, sophomore Everett Golson is the most exciting candidate in the four-man race for quarterback at Notre Dame this summer. Golson has yet to take a snap in a real college football game, but his playmaking potential has made him a fan favorite this offseason.
The South Carolina native passed for 11,634 yards in high school and threatened national records as a senior. Irish head coach Brian Kelly praised Golson’s ability to extend plays while keeping his eyes down the field after watching his impressive highlight reel. Brief displays at practice and in pre-game warm-ups have also revealed that he has as strong of an arm as anyone on the roster.
Irish fans got their first extended look at Golson during the spring game in April, and he did not disappoint. He completed 11 of his 15 pass attempts, two of them for touchdowns, and also ran for 25 yards. He was the only quarterback who finished the game without being intercepted, although there were a few mishaps along the way. Kelly had a different perspective from the sideline and was far from anointing Golson his starter at the end of the spring.
“Everett cannot manage the game in the manner that he needs to,” Kelly said following the Blue-Gold game. “You can see all of [the quarterbacks] need work, and we’re excited to keep bringing them along. This summer they’ve got to help themselves.”
Golson struggled to relay plays from the sideline and to make pre-snap reads and adjustments. Kelly said following the game that Golson had pinned down the art of playing quarterback, but not the science.
The art, though, might be enough to get him a shot at the starting job. Science comes experience, trial and error, while art is harder to learn. The Blue-Gold game amounts to much too small of a sample size to determine what kind of results Golson can produce, but at first glance the slightly undersized Golson seems to have that innate ability to make things happen.
If Golson plays, 2012 will be a year of learning on the job. While Kelly and the offensive coaching staff will push him to develop into a more consistent and cerebral player, those things take time to become second nature, especially for someone who is still a freshman by the standards of most college football programs.
In the interim, Golson would be called on to survive by doing what comes more naturally — improvising. His first year on the field doesn’t have to be clean or systematic. It would likely carry bigger ups and bigger downs than the two upperclassmen (Tommy Rees and Andrew Hendrix) that he is trying to unseat. If Golson can at least show he is headed in the right direction with understanding the playbook and limiting mistakes, he could become the player that takes Kelly’s spread offense to the next level.
What’s a Good Season?
Golson can establish himself as the quarterback of the future at Notre Dame with a good season. To do that, he needs to live up to his billing as a playmaker. Leading a game-winning drive or two and proving that he has poise to go along with his powerful arm and running ability would go a long way in separating him from his current competition and the new talented players coming up behind him.
One main goal this year for Golson should be showing that he can keep the train on its tracks for four quarters. He won’t necessarily get that opportunity in Week One against Navy. If his role expands and he shows he can handle the dozens of quarterback tasks away from the actual play, he will put together a successful first year on the field.