FORT WAYNE – Everett Golson’s development last season landed Notre Dame in the BCS championship game and appeared to give the Irish stability at quarterback.
But when it was revealed that Golson was suspended from school for what he described as “poor academic judgment,” coach Brian Kelly had to develop a plan to deal with losing the quarterback for the season and possibly bringing him back in 2014.
“There are defining moments in everybody’s life,” Kelly said when he addressed Golson’s suspension for the first time Tuesday during a teleconference. “Mistakes are made, especially young kids make mistakes. I think Everett’s going to take this, and I think it’s really going to be truly his defining moment. He is going to grow and live and learn from this mistake. I have a great deal of confidence that we are going to see a young man back here at Notre Dame. I’m hopeful of that.”
While Golson attempts to return to Notre Dame, Kelly also said he understands the challenge of replacing a quarterback who went 10-1 in his first year as a starter after not playing as a freshman.
The Irish will have three scholarship quarterbacks in seniors Tommy Rees and Andrew Hendrix, and freshman Malik Zaire. Rees is the only quarterback with starting experience, going 14-4 as a starter. Hendrix has played in eight games and Zaire enrolled early and participated in spring practice.
Kelly said Rees, Hendrix and Zaire will compete for the starting job.
“We’re very fortunate that we’ve got experienced quarterbacks in Tommy Rees and Andrew Hendrix,” Kelly said. “These guys have been in the program now, they’ve been with us going on our fourth year. We have great relationships and great understanding of our offense.
“It is going to be a challenge, but one that we think that we can overcome. That is what these kids are about. They overcame a lot last year, and they will continue to do it this year, regardless of who’s at that quarterback position.”
Golson’s suspension for the fall semester appears to be because of a repeated violation of Notre Dame’s academic policies or a flagrant violation of the university’s rule.
The student handbook states that a first-time academic violation can result in either zero credit for work submitted or an F in the course. But dismissal can occur if the first violation is of an “unusually grave nature.”
A second violation carries a standard penalty of suspension or dismissal from the university, according to the handbook.
Whether this was or was not a repeat offense by Golson, all indications are that he will have the opportunity to return to Notre Dame.
“In my conversations with Everett and his family, it has been whatever he needs to do, he’s going to do it to give himself the opportunity to be considered back here at Notre Dame,” Kelly said.
“In January, if he’s here on campus and he’s been allowed to come back to school, he would have had to done the right thing.
“I think he’s started in my eyes of accepting responsibility, and once you’ve accept responsibilities in my eyes and you follow through on what’s asked of you month after month, then that is all I need to see from Everett. Then it’s back to work.”
Kelly also said that neither he nor Notre Dame’s compliance office has had any contact with other schools inquiring about Golson transferring.
Kelly also addressed reports that Eddie Vanderdoes, a five-star defensive lineman who signed to play for the Irish in February, is reconsidering his decision.
“None of those freshmen are here yet,” Kelly said. “We will see who shows up. There is always a surprise or two. We hope they are all here when they are asked to report in June.”