Notre Dame’s quarterback meeting room will need a couple less chairs when the Fighting Irish begin spring drills in a couple months. Deshone Kizer’s Monday decision to declare for the NFL Draft came just weeks after Malik Zaire opted to transfer out of the program.
The decisions by the top two quarterbacks on Notre Dame’s 2016 depth chart set the stage for sophomore Brandon Wimbush to take the reins of Brian Kelly’s offense heading into 2017.
The only knock on Wimbush is an overall lack of experience. But after the Irish won a high-profile recruiting battle with Penn State to reel Wimbush in during the 2015 cycle, they’ll be looking to the New Jersey product to resurrect Notre Dame’s gridiron fortunes.
Wimbush anticipated redshirting his true freshman season in 2015 but was thrust into the primary backup role after Zaire suffered an ankle injury in the second game of the season. Settling in as Kizer’s understudy, Wimbush played in two games that fall, producing a highlight-worthy 58-yard touchdown scramble against UMass.
Wimbush redshirted this season. It was an important year for him to develop physically while also gaining a better grasp of the offense. Behind Wimbush, freshman Ian Book — coming off a redshirt campaign — heads into the spring with the best opportunity to earn Notre Dame’s backup quarterback job. Book (5-11, 200 lbs) is neither as big nor as mobile as Wimbush but has a lively arm.
Notre Dame will also have Avery Davis, a consensus 4-star dual-threat signal-caller out of Texas. Davis will have to play remarkably well in his first college training camp to challenge Wimbush and Book for immediate playing time.