|Redshirt Freshman Evertt Golson|
(Note: The number listed in parenthesis is the years of eligibility remaining.)
ON THE ROSTER
QUARTERBACKS DEPARTED: Dayne Crist (transferred to Kansas)
QUARTERBACKS RETURNING: Jr.-Tommy Rees (2), Jr.-Andrew Hendrix (3), Soph.-Everett Golson (4)
POSSIBLE POSITION SWITCH: Luke Massa from WR back to QB, his original position.
COMMITTED QB RECRUITS: None
QB OFFERS (2011-12): Gunner Kiel (Columbus, Ind.; LSU commit), Connor Brewer (Scottsdale, Ariz.; Texas commit), Maty Mauk (Kenton, Ohio; Missouri commit), Jameis Winston (Hueytown, Ala.; Florida State commit), Cyler Miles (Denver, Colo.; Washington commit)
QBS ON THE ND BOARD: Devin Fuller (Old Tappan, N.J.) - Has visited Nebraska, TCU and Rutgers; considering visits to Arizona, Notre Dame and UCLA.
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JUNIOR QUARTERBACKS OFFERED (2012-13): Kohl Stewart (Houston, Texas; Texas A&M commit), Tyrone Swoopes (Whitewright, Texas), Matt Alviti (Park Ridge, Ill.), Aaron Bailey (Bolingbrook, Ill.)
On one hand, the Irish aren't any closer to finding the answer at quarterback than they were 26 games ago when the Brian Kelly era began. On the other hand, Rees has 16 starts under his belt, Hendrix now has some playing experience in pressure situations, and Golson preserved a year of eligibility and should be ready to hit the ground running in the spring.
At the present time, it's difficult to see a long-term future with Rees at quarterback, although his .750 winning percentage as a starter is the best in the program since Brady Quinn. He's also shown durability.
But unless Rees can dramatically improve his mobility and "extend plays" - if you will recall, that was a reason given for losing the job to Crist in the pre-season - he's not going to give Kelly the versatility he needs to execute his complete offensive package. Before he's thrown to the scrap heap, however, keep in mind that until the Irish play Navy in Ireland to open the 2012 season, Rees is the last quarterback to start a game for Notre Dame. In fact, he started the last 12.
Hendrix showed arm strength, decent accuracy and the ability to run the football in the read option play, which is so integral to Kelly's spread attack. There is potential there - probably more than anyone realized prior to the 2011 season - and he has barely scratched the surface when it comes to playing experience. He has a cannon for an arm and he has the physical make-up to take the punishment at the position.
From a pass/run standpoint, Golson clearly gives the Irish the necessary ingredients for the position. He is a pass-first quarterback with elusiveness and running skills. He's also smaller than the 6-foot-0, 185 pounds that he's listed at, and would have to show that he can withstand the physical nature of the position over the long haul.
The depth chart as of Jan. 9, 2012 is 1) Rees, 2) Hendrix, 3) Golson. Irish Illustrated anticipates that changing, at least by the end of pre-season camp if not in the spring.